Introducing Swellnet Traveller

Swellnet Dispatch

Over the last few months there’s been some work happening behind the scenes at Swellnet and it affects those of you who read the Indonesian and Hawaiian forecasts.

Rather than a detailed twice-weekly forecast, which are time-consuming to write and have a proportionately low number of users, we’ve now rolled it into a new product called the Swellnet Traveller.

Swellnet Traveller is a customised worldwide forecast.

We've been providing these forecasts upon request for many years, and we’re stoked to be able to package it in a simple way for anyone who needs to know before they go.

All you have to do is let us know where it is you’re travelling to, when you’re planning to leave and for how long, and you’ll get written forecasts tailored to your travel needs (either five written forecasts or seven depending on the package you choose).

Whether it be to sharpen your quiver, finalise your travel plans, or you’re merely curious about what to expect on your holiday, the Swellnet Traveller has you covered - and for anywhere in the world.

The Swellnet Traveller

Comments

carpetman's picture
carpetman's picture
carpetman commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 4:15pm

:-(

Dammit. The forecast notes were one of the most valuable things SN offered. I checked the Indo and Pacific forecasts most weeks. Found them particularly useful for hindcasting.

Fair enough you wanna you charge for it but I thought that was part of the pro package though?

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 4:28pm

That's the reason I initially subscribed. You forecasted epic waves for gland last July and delivered.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 4:35pm

It's tough to make business decisions when you've done things a particular way for a long time. There's a few reasons why we've gone this way though:

Firstly, OS Forecaster Notes are used in a much different manner to those who read their local FC Notes to plan the surfing week ahead. The vast majority (around 98%) of our audience is Australian, so anyone who needs to know precise surf forecast information for any OS location is travelling there (maybe once or twice per year), and already spending quite a bit of money on flights/accom etc. As such, a paid, personalised forecast service is a ideal match, along with transfers, travel insurance and all of the other things you buy for your trip.

Secondly, the OS Forecaster Notes achieved very little web traffic on their own, and generated absolutely zero revenue for the business. This meant we were committed to producing these notes twice a week, regardless if one person or one thousand people read 'em. We also get forecast requests all the time for all kinds of unusual places (outside of Indo and Hawaii), but we didn't have the resources to do them, because it wasn't viable for the business. A paid forecast service will allow us to scale this part of the business accordingly.

Thirdly, Swellnet is a really a small business - there's been just four of us for about the last seven or eight years now - and with advertising revenue all but gone these days, we need to find new ways to pay the bills. It's no different to the local surf shop deciding to put in a coffee machine and start selling cappuccinos on the side.

We totally understand that not everyone will want to pay for a specialised surf forecast, but we feel this is the best way forward for these kinds of specialised services.

mundies's picture
mundies's picture
mundies commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:22pm

I get it, all the best to you Ben. You are basically rolling out for subscribers and punters what you did for Tom Carroll and RCJ years and years ago - personalised wave forecasting services for specific people, for specific locations, for specific dates. Using your expertise to create revenue to feed your family. Good on you.

mundies

mundies's picture
mundies's picture
mundies commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 11:25pm

And to help those punters score the best surf possible & maximise their surf travel dollars.

mundies

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 5:50am

Thanks Mundies.. yeah that's pretty much the short version!

JimmyMac's picture
JimmyMac's picture
JimmyMac commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 12:45pm

A life time of knowledge and expertise is priceless and you can't pay a mortgage with good will. Love what you and the Swellnet team do.

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 4:52pm

Will the new revenue stream be used to fix some of the cams that have been down ?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:01pm

Put in a brand new cam at Snapper this week but it was DOA. Argh! Waiting for the replacement, should be up in a few days.

New Kirra cam went in last week. Greenmount was upgraded (again!) last week. Torquay was upgraded yesterday. Christies Beach was upgraded the week before. A bunch of new Illawarra cams were sent down to our local sparky this week, they’ll be installed shortly. Noosa broke down Monday, new cam was sent up to our sparky Tuesday and it should be installed tomorrow.

So, we’re being proactive as much as we can (seeing we don’t have a Surfcam installation department).

savanova's picture
savanova's picture
savanova commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 4:26pm

You only needed ask, put me on the payroll and I'll gladly wander the coast and be your cam man.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:18pm

Mediterranean?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:29pm

Anywhere you like!

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:35pm

Good on you Ben, sounds ideal.

palmymick's picture
palmymick's picture
palmymick commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:37pm

Cheers Ben
I'll be having a go at that next surf trip
Any chance of personalised snow forecasts?
I thought it was worth asking ;)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:42pm

Good idea! We should set that up as a seperate thing. I initially did some snow forecasting on Swellnet around 2003-2004, but haven’t had the time to do it properly since. But we keep a close eye on snow stuff as it’s all associated with our LWT tracking.

palmymick's picture
palmymick's picture
palmymick commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 10:03am

Yeah I've had some success on Oz and NZ 'stealth' missions using your surf forecasts.
Using the WA and SA forecasts when the lows are coming through, along with the long wave trough is good for spotting storms that are likely to bring the goods and timing.
Then its a look at the southern annular mode to see if its going to favour Oz or NZ and roll the dice!
Be great to have someone who actually knows what they are doing on it tho!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:48pm

Will they be done by you guys in house?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 5:57pm

Yep, Craig or myself, depending on the region, and forecast days.

There’s also scope for individual back and forth with either of us too, to discuss particulars if need be.

We won’t be outsourcing this to a cheapo call centre in the Philippines!

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 6:01pm

I don’t think I’m a fan Ben.
I’m doing a boat trip in a few months so I’ll be keen to know the forecast in the days leading up to it, just get an idea which boards to take. I only really need to see the forecast the day before I leave, then once I’m on the boat it’s up to the guide where we surf anyway really.
I’m not gunna pay $90.00 to read one forecast sorry mate

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 6:34pm

Fair enough mate, we know it’s not for everyone.

Just to clarify, it’s five forecasts (not one) for $90. Works out to be $18 each.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 7:10pm

Yep I get that it’s 5 forecasts, sorry I didn’t mean to imply that you’re only doing one..
just that in the instance I mentioned once I’m on the boat the rest aren’t really useful.
Dunno, maybe I’m thinking about it wrong.
Anyway I hope it goes well for you. Still going to be a happy paid up subscriber

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 9:04pm

For those with a bit more flexibility what about an alert for specific areas with specific conditions? eg spot X 3 days 6ft plus.

Kellya's picture
Kellya's picture
Kellya commented Thursday, 16 May 2019 at 10:51pm

Reckon it would be worth it for some regions. Wouldn’t bother for an Indo trip but somewhere out of your comfort forecast zone would be worth it for sure.

Sheep go to heaven's picture
Sheep go to heaven's picture
Sheep go to heaven commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 7:03am

What if we can't get any internet during the trip ? Some spots off Sumatra have zero access , I like the idea of customised forecasts but for those areas you can only use half of the product provided :(

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 7:23am

Good question, though my understanding is that coverage is increasing all the time - so unless you’re in a remote land camp and won’t be travelling further afield, most other locations will allow for internet access at some point.

For boats that are unlikely to receive any internet access, we can possibly consider alternative delivery methods (Inmarsat, HF radiofax, etc).

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 8:41am

Two Bob's worth... It's nigh impossible to please everyone, more so when you're running a business that evolved from a small service for mates. I don't think we can whinge too much for the 'Traveller' option. If you're planning on travel with considerations for: Airfare, Visa, Medicals, Accom, Subsistence, Insurance... a few bob beforehand to help understand requirements for less than $100 doesn't present as a careless investment. If anything, Swellnet needs to continue to evolve into a service offering for diverse needs and customer call. When you run you're own business, meet your own requirements to keep in line with ASIC, ATO & the rest of the robbers you often come to the same conclusion. This shit any easy to pull off. Best of Luck, Ben.

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 12:35pm

I agree!

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 10:24am

Good on you Ben - I'm very in favour of transperancy in business communication; and customised offerings make sense. On this new model, if I was planning a trip to "spot x" in indo, two questions:

1. Could you review the meta data for that region over the last 2 years and say "in all probabality the months with the best condtrions are Y & Z" - because I would need to book accomodations in advance, time out from family, business etc. Obviously generically now is the indo season; but some spots maybe more susceptible to tides and trades?

2. Then if I have booked into spot X based on your advice - lets say 1-15/6/19 - how far in advance would you make the forecast call?

Many thanks

Wish you well with the transformation of the business

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 10:46am

Thanks RR.

This is another great question, and something we've discussed in-house. 

Essentially, your first point is something we'd like to offer down the track, because there's (currently) more work required to pull all of that information together than simply sitting down and going through the standard forecast routine. Hindcasting and/or climatic summaries may not seem like such a big deal for Indo - and in general that may be the case - but as a general service offering for anywhere in the world, there are a lot of tricky locations that would require a lot more time and evaluation.

So, we need to create this as a seperate opportunity.

As for how long we can forecast in advance - the default settings for this service begins 9 days before your first surf day, then updated every three days. Of course, confidence varies considerably depending on the location, time of year and prevailing synoptic pattern - in some instances we've been able to get an early heads up on large swell events for locations like Indonesia between two and three weeks in advance - but some tricky coasts can remain low confidence even at two or three days out - depends what you're looking for.

Over time, we'll refine the product and then allow further customisation. But for now we thought we'd kick things off with a simple product, and then assess the feedback in a couple of months. 

 

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 10:57am

Hi Ben - thanks for reply, makes sense. If you want to experiment with time/effort on building meta data on one spot I have one in mind, for the down the track experiment. RR

orourke 210's picture
orourke 210's picture
orourke 210 commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:04am

To chime in as one of the non-Aussies that use your service, this comes as a huge disappointment. Your Indo forecasts were great. And I find it hard to believe that after the forecasts in Aus, the Indo forecast isn't your biggest read.
To me this seems a way to capitalize off your subscriber base desperate to know what kind of waves they're going to get into on their pre-booked holidays. Which is fair enough, that's a business decision you've made, and I hope it works out for you.
Your forecasts are definitely the best I've seen and I've been stoked on the level of detail you go into, especially versus Surfline. You've definitely helped to inspire a deeper understanding of meteorology to the point where I can pretty much do it myself given the tools available, but I loved hearing your take on it.
I'm out boys, and a bit bummed, but best of luck.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:21am

Thanks for the feedback mate.

It's very difficult to please everyone (unless you offer everything for free, and even then you'll still get someone whinging about something), but we think that long term this is the best way forward for the business.

And, we'll continue to refine and upgrade all of the forecasting tools that are offered as a part of the Swellnet Pro service too.

orourke 210's picture
orourke 210's picture
orourke 210 commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:41am

Thanks for the reply. Next time I'm headed down your way I'll be re-subbing for sure. Keep up the good work. Forecaster notes best out there by a mile. Cheers.

surfiebum's picture
surfiebum's picture
surfiebum commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:26am

How detailed and area specific are the forecasts?
Can we get an example?

I'm guessing the WAM's and 16 day auto forecast tabs are staying for the Indo regions?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:28am

It's just like the current Forecaster Notes, but tailored for your location and time frame. 

Yep, all model products remain as is.

VicRhino's picture
VicRhino's picture
VicRhino commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 11:40am

If I was doing a trip this is money well spent ... great idea

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 12:35pm

Gary would like to know if you can predict disease hotspots around exotic cultural hubs like Kuta, Phuket, and the Gold Coast during schoolies' week.

The extra spend on the forecast would be repaid with money saved on topical ointment once returning.

Asking for a friend

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 3:47pm

Gary would like to proposition you, Ben.

Perhaps you offer the option that for an extra $10 Gary G gets CC'd on the opening email. This gives Gary 9 days' notice to undertake his depilatory regime, iron the mankini, and take up the last slot on the boat trip!

Add another $10 and Gary will pack his ukelele for some sunset serenading of the travelling crew,

This would be a REAL Swellnet traveller experience

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 7:02pm

Will you be doing Maldives reports as well?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 17 May 2019 at 7:34pm

Anywhere in the world.

KevinHardwick's picture
KevinHardwick's picture
KevinHardwick commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 9:44am

Hey Ben, heading to Chile in July for a few weeks... would you give reports for the whole coast line there or just one region?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 10:01am

We can provide forecast advice for anywhere, including South America.

One crucial component of any forecasting service (surf, general weather or otherwise) is the availability of real time verification and observations, which are difficult to come by in that region. However we can provide advice regarding the overall trends and likely size and conditions at exposed locations.

mrkook's picture
mrkook's picture
mrkook commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 11:30am

Love the concept, just put the dough down for a little trip I've got early June. Looking forward to the forecasts.
This is a great site, thanks for all the effort you put in.

MK

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:51am

Order received.. thanks! Looking forward to seeing what's on the way. 

Tod Weymouth's picture
Tod Weymouth's picture
Tod Weymouth commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 12:51pm

Hi Ben
Sounds like a great idea.
I'm off to Indo for the month of August.
Looking forward to a forecast.
Thanks for your efforts.
Cheers

Turtle

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:50am

Unreal, thanks mate!

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Saturday, 18 May 2019 at 1:56pm

Next time Mick's snake wave is on let me know with a forecast...I'll prepay and wait for the word.
Cheers Ben and team...awesome service ;-)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:50am

The pricing's a little higher for those kinds of requests ;)

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:45am

Why do you need to know surfing ability and quiver? Seems irrelevant to a surf forecast for a particular location.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 8:49am

There's a big difference between a beginner longboarder and an advanced shortboarder. Knowing some basic info will help us to tailor the forecast more specifically to their requirements.