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AllTrails connects people to nature with Algolia Search

Algolia really excels at speed and performance. Consumers expect search to be blazing fast. Not only are speed and performance table stakes, but we’ve also expanded our user base across the globe. Delivering an accelerated, worldwide experience is something that’s been really easy to do using Algolia.

Sydney Cho

Senior Product Manager @ AllTrails

Summary

AllTrails wants to connect people to the outdoors and kindle the spirit of adventure by providing its users with the ability to find parks and trails around the world. Fast and relevant search is key to providing its millions of users all across the world with the perfect trail for their outdoor adventures. AllTrails and Algolia have worked together closely over more than eight years to create a blazingly fast geosearch user experience.

Alltrails
Use case

SaaS

Headquarters

San Francisco

Customer since

since 2014

Feature usage

Search API, Geosearch, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Dynamic Synonyms, Click & Conversions, Rules, Personalization, Native Mobile

Key results
  • Increased search speed and relevancy

  • Global scope, used in 200 countries

  • Strong partnership and support

Key numbers
  • One-third reduction in search latency while scaling

The challenges

  • 1.

    Scaling from U.S.-based traffic to global customer base

  • 2.

    Need for fast, relevant search results as core competency

  • 3.

    Support local and long-distance users with relevant search results

The solution

  • 1.

    Easy to deploy and configure search platform

  • 2.

    A wide range of feature deployments, including geosearch, dynamic re-ranking and more

  • 3.

    Easy to use by team members with a variety of experience levels

The result

  • 1.

    Fast search speed and relevant results

  • 2.

    Global scope

  • 3.

    One-third reduction in search latency while scaling

Founded in 2010, AllTrails is a hiking, health and wellness, and travel app designed to help people find outdoor recreational activities. With a mission of kindling the spirit of adventure, AllTrails helps its users explore the outdoors with hand-curated trail maps including photos, reviews, and crowdsourced recordings. 

Originally a team of six, the company has scaled remarkably to nearly 200 employees, and now serve more than 40 million registered hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners all over the world. Since its inception, the outdoor start-up has experienced skyrocketing success. Today, AllTrails is the most trusted and used outdoor platform in the world and is frequently ranked as a top-5 Health and Fitness app. 

The company provides its users with more than 350,000 trails and shares its users’ value of celebrating and protecting the environment and public lands. A proud member of 1% for the Planet, AllTrails contributes 1% of all revenue to non-profit organizations that promote conservation, access, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. 

Users access AllTrails via the AllTrails app or by website, whether they’re looking for a trail on-the-go or planning a trip in advance. Because of this, being able to provide fast search and handle both local and long distance searches (for people looking for trail recommendations) is crucial. 

“The typical AllTrails user is someone who’s looking for an outdoor adventure, and they are looking for trails that meet their individual or activity group’s specific needs. To that end, we’ve developed a large set of filters to help people find the perfect trail,” says Sydney Cho, Senior Product Manager at AllTrails. 

“A common sentiment that we love to hear is when an AllTrails user writes in and says, ‘I’ve lived here for 20 or 30 years, and I had no idea there were so many amazing trails near me. Thank you for helping me discover beauty in my backyard!”

Alltrails

Going global: a blazing-fast solution that scales

To meet its goal of bringing the joy of the outdoors to as many people as possible, AllTrails needed to be able to scale and needed a search solution that was able to grow with them and expand their suite of capabilities as they became a global company. 

AllTrails adopted Algolia as their search platform in 2014 with an eye on the solution’s speed of delivering relevant search results. 

“Algolia really excels at speed and performance. Consumers expect search to be blazing fast,” Cho says Not only are speed and performance table stakes, but we’ve also significantly expanded our user base across the globe.”

Alltrails

“It’s an innately fast service, and any time you build something externally you must worry about speed and performance — it’s something you can’t control. If our cloud or internet host goes down, we’re put into a tough position. But we’ve never had to worry about Algolia; it’s been fast and reliable partner.” 

She adds: “Delivering an accelerated, worldwide experience is something that’s been really easy to do using Algolia.” 

As AllTrails set up more servers to accommodate global service, it was able to reduce search latency by 1/3 through Algolia. 

Cho says that as the company saw higher volumes of traffic come from Europe and Asia, driving its global expansion, it was able to easily add new servers and by using Algolia was able to reduce search latency by a third “almost overnight.”

Creating a consistent global user experience

Whether investigating nature paths in their hometown or planning a trip overseas, AllTrails users all have the same search experience. To create a consistent and cohesive experience regardless of location, AllTrails and Algolia worked together on Geo Search capabilities that met the company’s unique use case. 

Collaboration and partnership were key. “Geo Search was a big outcome of the partnership between our two teams,” Cho says. “We needed a blend. We’re serving people locally in some use cases, and abroad in others. 

We can’t hyperfocus on one and exclude the other.” It was a true partnership between Algolia and AllTrails teams figuring out what levers made local searches feel local and specific for local users, while making it easy to find popular points of interest when far afield. 

“We've had to work together to figure out how to solve use cases that are a little bit more specific to our users’ needs around trail search and discovery.”

Alltrails

AllTrails has implemented Algolia to power search on its native mobile app and website,using a host of capabilities, including Dynamic Re-Ranking, Dynamic Synonyms, Clicks & Conversions, Rules, and Personalization. 

The company recently integrated Algolia with geodata from its partner MapBox to solve a unique customer feature request filtering a list of hiking trails within a specific driving distance of the user’s current location. 

“We request a polygon of the map data from MapBox and run that through Algolia,” Cho explains. “That’s a feature our users have been asking for. We wanted to solve it using our partner MapBox and we were able to accomplish that using our existing search engine (Algolia).”

“We work with so many partners, and Algolia really stands out in that respect.” The two companies now have a more than eight-year relationship to show for it. AllTrails is an active part of Algolia’s customer advisory board, providing feedback and product requests.” 

Using Algolia has been easy, Cho says, not just for her — an admitted power user — but for those with varying degrees of experience: for example, engineers, content managers, data integrity employees, and customer service professionals are all able to use Algolia. 

“What’s nice about Algolia is that I can change the ranking algorithm and the UI without needing developer help,” Cho says. “Or, I can implement various rules. For example, ‘if the user types in YOSEM, the search function will always pin Yosemite National Park to the first ranked result.’ Those are things I can implement and see in action quickly.” 

Cho says Algolia has been a real partner to AllTrails, helping the company understand how to best leverage the features of its Search API, investigate ways to optimize for the company’s unique user experience, and what changes to the customer search experience would be viable. 

“The Algolia customer support team is a helpful partner when thinking about things coming down the pipeline.”

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