Niche booking sites are the only way to enter the crowded market at this point, and while Minitime touts its easy search-and-book functionality, it’ll take a parent willing to learn all aspects of the site to reap any new value.
Anyone who’s ever had to go on vacation with a child under the age of ten knows how important it is to plan appropriate, engaging activities before hitting the road. Families that have had to scour through TripAdvisor reviews or parenting magazines will be excited to hear news of a family trip-planning site that launches today.
Minitime.com is an online booking and review website that recommends hotels and activities based on children’s ages. The live site currently hosts reviews and information on over 1,000 hotels and activities in 300 destinations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
How it works
All hotels and activities are ranked by prices, stars, and kid-friendly amenities, which are then sorted based on the children’s ages. A family that might find hundreds of hotels San Diego through a standard booking site will only be shown 29 hotels with a list of kid-friendly amenities on Minitime.
“We take into consideration the star rating versus the price, neighborhoods, and the distance to popular attractions. Over time, every new review will go into the algorithm and drive it to make it more refined for your family,” explains MiniTime CEO John Smelzer.
The social component of the website prompts users to sign in through Facebook and follow their friends on Minitime. Bookings made by users’ real-life friends and families with children in the same age range with be weighed into the algorithm. Facebook is hoped to serve as a starting point for users finding and following one another within the site.
Over time users will be able to add and review new hotels on the website. These will be added into the overall algorithm and users will be acknowledged for their contribution. The exact method for rewarding the quality and quantity hasn’t yet been created.
A focus on sharing content over social media
Minitime will try to set itself apart both from other booking/review sites and build its brand through the publication of original editorial content. This will take precedent over a social media presence, says Smelzer. The posts covering where to go and what to bring will be shared with other travel and family publications in hopes of creating a reputable voice for the website. The founders are also in talks with mommy bloggers known as influencers in the online sphere.
Too many moving parts for parents?
Minitime’s value proposition lies in its ability to successfully pull off a hybrid website that combines an internal social community, a booking platform, and an editorial landing page. It’s a lot.
It’s biggest challenge will be introducing the website to family trip planners that currently rely on lists like TripAdvisor’s Hotels & Resorts for Families and read travel content on Parenting.com. The reputation and track record of its founders Nimrod Lev and Oleg Sandler will aid Minitime is building a presence that overshadows current sites that combine original content, reviews, and bookings for family travel like Ciao Bambino and Family Vacation Critic.
Minitime has raised $1 million in financing from seed investors and will present at The PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit on November 14 in Scottsdale, AZ.