Update: Leo wants you to test TripSay. The first 100 readers to send an e-mail to info [at] tripsay [dot] com with “nextweb” in the subject will get a beta invite.
As I’ve promised on Sunday, it’s all about the Finnish start-ups on the Next Web this week. They thank that to a successful invasion at Web 2.0 Expo. Today I cover TripSay, a social travel service. I’ve met these guys at the Next Web Conference as well as last week. They got Techcrunched after the Next Web, now it’s time for me to ask them some questions.
Let’s start where TC’s Erick Schonfeld ended his post. He said social travel sites like Driftr, HereOrThere, YowTrip, and TripSay will face the challenge of creating a knowledgeable community. To attract a crowd like this, a travel service will need a little something extra. So I asked founder Leo Koivulehto how they will differentiate from their competitors.
Koivulehto: “Our service is unique as the information you see is personalized according to your interests and profile. The more time you spend on the site and more places you rate, the more it learns from you. A college graduate and grandpa Jones will see differently biased content and recommendations. Which means you don’t have to spend time going through things that are of no interest to you. We help to find what you are really looking for.”
TripSay also partnered up with some large Finnish travel agencies. TripSay provides them with their content, in return they receive a chunk of the travel agencies’ traffic. Nice move, but Koivulehto will have to make sure that TripSay also teams up with agencies from other countries. Otherwise, TripSay will offers its visitors just a Finnish view on the world of tourism.
Before launching their start-up, Koivulehto and his team used to be active travelers. Now they just stroll conferences: “We would never take a package trip, but want to plan the trip ourselves. For that we needed to crawl the web for information, ask all our friends where they had been and how did they like it . This was really time consuming and there was simply too much stuff on the web to find anything sensible and relevant to our interests.”
“We wanted to create a service where you can easily access travel information that has been crawled from the web, aggregated, organized and made easily searchable. We also wanted to have ratings and tips from your friends integrated, so you could see where your friends have been and easily spot the places that have been liked the best and get the insider tips and ideas for your next trip. Our databank now consists of info from over 260000 destinations, places and sights.”
What I like about TripSay, is the integration of Flickr and YouTube content. Koivulehto said they’re also working on Facebook integration and will pay attention to the wishes of their users. I think that the key to extra traffic lays there. Integrating content from other services – maybe Dopplr as well? – makes TripSay more interesting, nobody wants an isolated social platform anymore.