A travellers’ social networking app developed in Queensland has seen a huge uptake globally as people confined by COVID-19 lockdowns explore the world virtually from home.

Developed in Brisbane in 2016, the Travello app now has users in 180 countries and could also help to support tourism recovery.

Travello Head of Sales and Partnerships Josh Wicks said he believed the app’s huge jump in usage and engagement in recent months was a good omen for tourism going forward.

‘Travello is a free app that allows travellers to share content, connect with other travellers and locals to discover the best-kept travel secrets, and find friends in real time all around the world,’ Mr Wicks said.

‘Travello also suggests new experiences based on users’ profiles and lets people explore their dream destinations, which has proved incredibly popular during the COVID-19 confinements.

‘We’ve seen Travello usage increase significantly from February to May and engagement rise by 36% since lockdowns began, as people look to satisfy their wanderlust from the couch.

‘Based on what we’ve seen, I think there will be plenty of demand and people ready to go once travel and tourism operators are able to start trading again.’

Mr Wicks said Travello normally established licensing agreements with travel and tourism businesses keen to engage with the app’s users, but had shifted its focus during the pandemic.

‘Our B2B partners can normally log in to our back-end and engage with Travello users in destination to offer them tailored goods and services,’ he said.

‘Obviously that’s not possible right now and it’s more a time to build our Travello community and try to get creative to support the tourism industry.’

Mr Wicks said the Fortitude Valley-based start-up was excited to recently be named a semi-finalist in the Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge run by the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

‘The challenge aimed to find the most disruptive start-ups and drive solutions to mitigate COVID-19’s impacts on tourism,’ he said.

‘Out of 1,000 applications from more than 100 countries, we made it into the top 10 in the Healing for Destinations category.

‘Our proposal was to work with global destination-marketing agencies to promote various destinations to our users and then use our travel technology to incentivise travellers to stay longer, disperse to lesser known regions, and spend more while they are there.

‘We didn’t quite make the winning 3 but, given that some of our competition had raised more than AU$150 million, we’re still honoured we were identified as a semi-finalist.’

Mr Wicks said the company was now in the process of taking its proposal to market, and welcomed approaches from interested destination-marketing organisations.

Travello employs 15 staff in its offices at The Precinct innovation hub.

TIQ Europe has worked with the Travello team to help the company expand its business into the European market.

Supporting Queensland exporters is a priority under the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.