Trip Design by Mr Hudson is a tailor-made trip planning service. It saves travellers a ton of research that they typically don’t have time to do. We speak to founder Bastiaan Ellen about Trip Design and how travellers can benefit. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself, in your own words: what was your background before you came to / started this company?

After having studied psychology and communication science in Amsterdam, I embarked on a career in marketing that eventually took me to London, where I found my niche in digital marketing within the travel sector. I worked for Expedia, Hotels.com and Thomas Cook, among others. Mr Hudson, which started as a travel blog, was born out of a frustration with a lack of quality travel content for gay men. Not all of us are interested in the best cruising spots, or clothing-optional resorts.

Who was Mr Hudson?

Henry Hudson was a 17th-century English explorer who made several attempts to find a passage through the Americas to China and India. While he didn’t find one (although to be fair to Henry, there wasn’t one to be found), he did return many times to explore the area, discovering the natural harbour that became New York City. His findings encouraged some of the first settlers to head for the New World, and Hudson Bay in Canada and the Hudson River in New York are both named after him. What we love about Henry Hudson is that he was a man driven by a passion for adventure and discovery, who inspired thousands of people to follow in his footsteps. We couldn’t think of any better inspiration for our brand.

Trip-Design
Bastiaan Ellen
Mr-Hudson

“Researching a trip and crafting the right itinerary still requires doing a lot of research and puzzling various pieces together”

What is Trip Design?

Trip Design is our tailor-made trip planning service. It helps our customers make the most of their vacation and saves them a ton of research that they typically don’t have time to do. The first step in the process is for us to get a complete understanding of how the customer likes to travel, and what they expect from their upcoming trip. We then match them up with one of our expert trip designers, who are the same team that curate the content for our site. Within five business days or less, the customer receives their custom daily trip plan, which includes recommendations on where to stay, what to see and do, where to eat, and where to go out, with links for easy online booking. We charge a flat fee for each day a customer asks us to curate, and we refund commissions earned from trip components booked through one of our partners.

How did you come up with Trip Design?

There are three main reasons we decided to launch Trip Design. The first reason is that people have become more adventurous and demanding when it comes to travel. They no longer want cookie-cutter experiences and standard holiday packages. Whether they go to relax, immerse themselves in another culture or perspective, reconnect with nature, or pick up a new skill, they are looking for something unique and perfectly suited to them. The second reason is that trip planning still represents a significant pain point within the travel journey. Technology has made most parts of this journey a lot easier, particularly with regards to booking, but researching a trip and crafting the right itinerary still requires doing a lot of research and puzzling various pieces together. Social media and review sites have made the problem worse because of all the noise they create. People find themselves bombarded with information and options, and have a hard time identifying what is right for them. The third reason is to do with our capabilities as a brand. Mr Hudson started as a blog a few years ago, and creating our content involves a process we call curation, which consists of doing extensive research, followed by selecting those places and experiences we consider most suitable for our users. Making this curation expertise available to customers was a natural next step for us as a business.

Taipei - Photo Credit Tommy
Taipei - Photo Credit Tommy
Bhutan - Photo Credit Riken Patel

“Trip Design was created for the intrepid, discerning explorer, who is uncompromising”

Who is Trip Designed aimed at?

Trip Design was created for the intrepid, discerning explorer, who is uncompromising but doesn’t have time for all the online digging required to map out the perfect trip. We do what a stylist would do for you if you’re after a particular look, but you are too busy to go shopping. We do the exact same thing but for travel. Our Trip Design service was developed to not only outsource all the hours and anxiety spent on research and planning but to create unforgettable getaways travellers would have a hard time achieving on their own.

What destinations or routes does Trip Design cover?

We specialise in city trips because it’s in cities where the sheer range of ever-changing options can be most overwhelming, making trip research both baffling and time-consuming. That being said, we’re here to help build any trip type a customer asks us to, from country itineraries to multi-destination journeys. What we get a lot is that customers engage us to curate part of their vacation. For example, someone might already have booked two weeks on the beach in Spain, but they ask us to create a trip plan for three additional days in Barcelona at the end of their holiday.

Galapagos - Photo Credit Simon Matzinger

“We’re pretty much over buying stuff, and much more interested in investing money in experiences that create lasting memories.”

Do you travel differently now?

I used to travel with friends and solo a lot, but now I mostly travel with my husband. As we have gotten older, we have become more deliberate about travel. I spend a lot of time researching before we take off and try to align places we visit and stay with the purpose of our trip. Avoiding the crowds has become a lot more critical, so we travel out of season as much as we can. We also have become less concerned about spending money when on vacation if it means getting more out of our trip. We’re pretty much over buying stuff, and much more interested in investing money in experiences that create lasting memories.

What’s on your travel bucket list?

I am hearing a lot of good things about Taiwan lately, so that’s definitely on my list of places to go. Other destinations I’m keen to visit include Bhutan and the Galapagos Islands.

Bhutan - Photo Credit Adl Wahid