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App it out: 'Zeppelin' may change the way you plan your vacation 

click to enlarge SEE THE WORLD:  Chad McNeill wants to help travelers share information and build thoughtful travel itineraries. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • SEE THE WORLD: Chad McNeill wants to help travelers share information and build thoughtful travel itineraries.

A new travel app known as Zeppelin, created by Paso Robles resident Chad McNeill, is currently in the stages of development and may just change the way you plan your next vacation. Zeppelin is what McNeill calls a “discovery to booking travel app” that allows users to build itineraries by dragging images of locations they’re interested in visiting, most of which will be images other users have uploaded to the platform. From there they can book lodging and transportation, all from within the Zeppelin app.

To encourage users to upload images associated with what McNeill refers to as “tips and tricks” about the places they’ve been, Zeppelin rewards them with Zep Bucks—a virtual currency that can be exchanged for travel goods such as hotel stays, plane tickets, and restaurant gift cards. Every time someone uses an image to help build an itinerary, the uploader of that image is rewarded.

The platform can be searched in a variety of ways, so for instance if users search for San Luis Obispo they can find images of things they can do throughout the city, or if they search for surfing, they can find images of potential surf spots across the globe, and then use those images to plan their trip.

McNeill developed the idea after talking with his wife about the considerable amount of time and effort that goes into creating the itinerary for their travels.

“It occurred to me that there’s got to be a better way to do this,” he said.

To find that better way, McNeill drew on his background in video game production, having previously worked for one of the world’s leading gaming companies, Konami Digital Entertainment Inc., as well as a company he helped develop called Mzure, which specializes in interactive technologies such as customized gaming, holographic motion gesture, and augmented reality.

“For a long time we’ve been creating intricate interactive properties in video games that give people digital rewards, but it never really, truly crossed over into that tangible reward for participation,” McNeill said.

Not only would Zeppelin provide those tangible rewards through its use of Zep Bucks, it would do so in exchange for sharing photos, which is something many users are already doing on social media sites.

“We thought, well, what if we change the paradigm … to offer them something that they can use?” McNeill said.

While Zeppelin will offer its services for destinations around the world, McNeill hopes it will help people discover SLO County as a travel destination.

“We’re looking at supporting San Luis Obispo County as a whole through travel discovery … because it’s such a fantastic place,” he said. 

The Zeppelin app will be available for both iOS and Android, and is expected to launch in the second half of 2014.


Fast fact

Speaking of apps, Lindsay Pera, founder of Chronic Wellness Tools, struggled for years with mysteriously deteriorating health, which led her to track symptoms, treatments, medical appointments, and the like—until she was fed up with the negativity and decided to focus on tracking what increased her wellness. She created the Chronic Wellness Tracker, and is now crowdfunding a mobile companion app. Visit to donate or learn more. She’s aiming to raise $27,000 by Dec. 5.


Intern Trever Dias compiled this week’s strokes. Send your business and non-profit news to [email protected].

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