Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Farecast goes for Series C

January 30, 2007

Farecast, one of the best and my favorite search travel search engine, has stomped home with another round of funding. According to PEHub, Farecast raised $12.1 million in the Series C round of funding led by Sutter Hill Ventures, and joined by existing investors Madrona Venture Group and Greylock Partners. This takes the total funding for Farecast to $20.6 million from its 3 rounds. 

Farecast searches seem to much more effective compared to its competitors ’cause of the ticket price guidance it provides based on historical price data analysis. This feature combined with delivery of persistent search results for ticket prices via RSS can save you time and precious dollars.

Kayak is another startup giving price guidance but without RSS feeds.  

Links:
Farecast

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Geojoey: super-charged travel experience

November 17, 2006

Geojoey is the best travel experience site I have ever come across. The speed with which you can browse, view, and learn from people’s travel experience is just amazing. Before I got ahead with more details about the site, I want to mention that the complete site is developed by just 2 people based out of Seattle – Mark Maunder and his wife Kerry Boyte. Mark and Kerry have till date launched 4 startups including Workzoo which was bought by Jobster last year.

Geojoey, like Netvibes, is a ajaxy web application consisting of just one page. When you bring up Geojoey, it maps the newest travel experiences add by the users onto Google Maps in the left pane, and experience details on the right. After that when you move your mouse over any of vote-bubbles, experience details instantly get refreshed on the right pane. And if you move your mouse over any travel experience on the right, icon on the map belonging to that experience will move that helps you easily locate the position on map. Once you have registered at Geojoey you can vote, comment, digg, reddit, and add the URL for the travel experience to your del.icio.us account. You can also filter your results either in the local or the global view and view experiences that are most popular, most discussed, ……..

If you want to search at Geojoey you can perform the regular address search or you do a landmark(like historic, monument,…) search by country. Geojoey has an impressive landmark search engine with and index over 8 million landmarks worldwide. Geojoey also provides a tag cloud that shows tags related to your current map view and enables you to quickly filter down results by your interest.

Geojoey enables users to add their use experiences. Along with the regular information that you can add about your travel experience, you can upload photos using the ajax in-page photo upload tool, and upload videos via Youtube. To better capture the travel experience, Geojoey has developed technology to enable freehand drawing onto the Google Maps. And if you are a GPS user, you can import your GPS track instead of drawing on the map.

You can make geofriends easily by inviting other Geojoey users or sending email invites. Sending invite to Gmail or Hotmail or AOL users looks basic but is very effective. All you need to do is copy and paste the contacts from your email account onto a text area in Geojoey and it automatically extracts all the email addresses for you. After that you can choose whom all you want to invite or delete.

In my talk with Mark he mentioned that on average people have been spending 10+ minutes on the site and some even spend 2 hours browsing and adding experiences. They also been experiencing increased user signup rate as the word is spreading around. I think Geojoey can certainly shake things up in the web travel experience world.

Links:
Geojoey

TravelPost to be acquired by Sidestep

October 31, 2006

         
SideStep.com, the travel search site, will be announcing the acquisition of TravelPost.com today. TravelPost provides user written reviews for hotels, hotel directory, and user travel blogs. The exact financial terms for the deal have not been disclosed.

SideStep, founded in 1999, searches for best travel deals across various sites including Orbitz, Continental.com, Budget.com, Sheraton.com, Avis.com. SideStep till date has raised $17M in funding from Trident Capital and private investors. TravelPost, founded in January of 2004, had raised more than $1 million in see funding last year. TravelPost investors include Amicus Capital, and Arba Seed Investment Group. Travelpost claims to have 700,000 monthly visitors which seems bit hard to believe if you go by the Alexa graph below.

I think SideStep can be better off in spending its resources to compete with upstarts like Kayak.com or Farecast.com, instead of trying to merge the Travelpost and Sidestep content. Providing RSS feeds like Farecast can add more value to Sidestep instead of this deal.

Links:
SideStep
TravelPost

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Tripconnect gets $1 million in funding

September 12, 2006

Tripconnect

Travel Social Networking site Tripconnect has raised $1 million in the first round of funding led by Masthead Venture Partners and individual private investors. Tripconnect is headed by Carter Nicholas and is located in New York City. Tripconnect allows people to get travel advice from people they know, others who share similar interests, and also from established and relevant information sources.

Tripconnect users can Rate places they have been to, write and read reviews of destinations and hotels, add people to their network, get recommendation from other users, invite friends, create wishlists. Users can join existing groups or create new public or private groups. Each group has its Top destinations that are rated and reviewed by users. Photos can be uploaded for groups and user can recommend reading material for destinations. You can also view any users activity and subscribe to the RSS feed to get the latest reviews. There are some more features besides these.

Despite all the effort and features Tripconnect gives Web1.0’ish look and has lot of newer technologies missing. Tripconnect does not support uploading or embedding of videos. There is no support to blog or widgetize the content created by the users. Also there is no slideshow facility for viewing photographs uploaded by users. Only way to upload photos is 1 photo at a time. Users cannot customize their homepage and color combination/UI is not really among the best out there. Positioning of Google Adsense can be improved upon…………

To attract the best and professional reviewers, Tripconnect has to provide to the best features possible, since there are quite a few player in the travel social networking market, like TravBuddy, Gusto, and VCarious.

Links:
Tripconnect

Tripconnect User

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Cheapest travel deals from cFare

August 31, 2006

cFares latest entrant in the online travel booking market, claiming to provide you the inside connection for travel. In order to do so, cFares has established exclusive relationships with travel wholesalers to provide lowest fares. It’s good to see that innovation keeps continuing in the online travel area with recent startups like Farecast also providing new ways to get best travel deals. cFares is founded by the serial entrepreneur Vajid Jafri and is located in Redwood Shores, CA.

Features: Site is pretty straightforward where you can search for Fights, Hotels, and Cars. A quick search for various flights on cFare, Farecast, Orbitz revealed that cFare does seem to have the lowest ticket prices with few exceptions. Following is the search for tickets with Departure on 18th Sep and Return on 24th Sep for various origin and destinations:

Rate Comparison
cFares also has priceline like feature of being able to name your price for a ticket. When users search for a ticket and think they can find a better fare for the trip, they can click cFares’s cAgent. Here you can name you international itinerary and the price you are willing to pay. cFare proprietary search agents process this information, check cFare databases for up to a week and find the lowest ticket price for you. cFare gives you 24 hour seat and price guarantee so that you have time to decide. After all said and done, remember that cAgent searches are currently only for international travel.Plan: cFare has 2 types of membership – Platinum or Gold. Gold membership is free, and for Platinum there is a $50 annual fee (sounds like Sams Club or Costco). The lowest fares offered by cFare are only for Platinum members. I don�t really know how many people will go for the Platinum membership, which can make cFare a difficult sell.

Technical/UI: Site is very basic as of now with lot of work required on the UI side. I got couple of errors while registering for the membership. There are no RSS feeds in any of the areas. Besides cFares does not have a company blog as of now to keep their users informed about new offerings.

Future: cFares faces stiff competition from well established players in the market like Orbitz, Expedia and well funded startups like Farecast. If cFare is consistently able to provide the lowest fares, it shouldn’t have problems getting the initial traction in the market

Links:
cFare

cFare