The DatoCMS Blog

Uncovering unconventional use-cases for a Headless CMS

Posted on March 14th, 2024 by Ronak Ganatra

Trip To Japan launched as a tour reseller for tourist experiences in Japan, aggregating hundreds of different operators. Their plan was to grow into a more complex product – a personal itinerary builder. This focuses on letting individuals create a highly personalised, well, trip to Japan (ha!), including all accommodations, in-country travel, and experiences.

About the project

They primarily used DatoCMS to manage the content of their website, particularly their editorial and SEO content.

However, particularly through features such as links and localization, they began to unlock non-conventional use-cases like custom itinerary building and trip curations using DatoCMS.

That was not the plan in the beginning. Dato has really kind of nudged its way into unexpected parts of our stack and product, I would say, where you wouldn't necessarily expect a CMS to power things.

Jökull Solberg, CTO and Co-Founder of Trip To Japan

Providing users with the ability to build custom trips via a “shopping cart” like experience meant that the team had to work with highly complex data structures and types, so the Trip To Japan team were very deliberate in the stack and CMS choices they made from the very early days.

Technical Details

Given that they were going to be focusing on a great user experience for the traveller and wanted an equally good developer experience internally, they opted for a stack that combined Turso, GraphQL, Typescript, NextJS, and Vercel.

This naturally meant that they were considering a Headless CMS from the very beginning, and after evaluating a few options, Jökull, Trip To Japan’s co-founder, opted for DatoCMS for a few reasons.

  • The ability to (very) easily construct a GraphQL API allowing their server to consume content from DatoCMS, eventually using RSC and tRPC between their client and server.

  • A strong editorial experience for their editors to create itineraries as well as blog posts, as they rely heavily on SEO and content for their organic approach to growing.

  • The functionality of DatoCMS's SEO fields, which is heavily used to help all content be well optimized before being published.

  • In-built localizations and locale-based publishing given their focus to have the website available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

  • DatoCMS’s plugin ecosystem allowing them to create and maintain a plugin to manage machine translations programmatically for each new piece of content, and

  • An insanely simple user-onboarding experience for their content team.

Jökull’s future plans with Trip To Japan include launching the granular itinerary builder option for customers, powered heavily by DatoCMS’s `link` field, allowing users to “drag and drop” their ideal experiences seamlessly. They’re also working on exciting user-generated content use-cases, by allowing external travellers and influencers to create, modify, and publish their own curated itineraries for other users to gather inspiration from.

Applications like Trip To Japan are constantly pushing the boundaries of what people "expect" a Headless CMS to do, especially when they think of one as a hosted API rather than a CMS, and we're keen to keep an eye on how these use-cases get more sophisticated.

Check out their website on!