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There is seldom a startup in the travel space that is the only one of its kind. Most are tackling similar problems from flight search to restaurant reviews with distinctive user experiences and market focus.
This week’s roundup of travel startups looks at two restaurant review websites in Asia that are focused on specific regions with no expansion in site. They could one day be the startups scooped up by growing global players like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
There is also an app easing the U.S. entry experience for foreign travelers, one of the first of its kind that we’ve seen, as well as the ever present tours and photo-sharing apps.
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» SimpleVisa is a mobile app that stores U.S. entry information for travelers from the 36 countries that participate in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Once travelers are authorized through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, they can visit the U.S. for up to 90 days. This mobile app saves the status of traveler’s ESTA so they always have the information ready at the airport and customs.
SkiftTake: This is a smart app that makes U.S. entry easy for participants in the Visa Waiver program. Mobile initiatives like this should be headed by the U.S. government in its mission to increase inbound travel.
» iPost-a-Card turns smartphone photos into actual postcards, which are delivered to users’ friends and family. It costs less than two dollars to send a postcard overseas and users can write a message on the photo or send a QR code that directs recipients to a 15-second video. The app is the result of a 4-sided partnership including the Thailand Post, a social media agency, a printing firm, and a mobile app development company.
SkiftTake: There are a number of photo-to-postcard apps circulating the market right now, although none have emerged as the concept winner. iPost-a-Card’s unique stakeholders and focus on Thailand gives the app the opportunity to woo international tourists and expand from there.
» Qraved is a new Jakarta-based food social network and restaurant booking platform that launched this summer in beta. Users take photos of their meals, write a description, and add it to the thousands of live listings. Users can also upvote food photos so the most popular dish at a restaurant is evident.
SkiftTake: Qraved’s focus on photos and social sharing differentiates it from other restaurant review sites based in Jakarta, but its success is pegged on users’ preference for photos over words.
» Wongnai is Thailand’s Yelp. The startup received a Series A financing round in May and has since focused on expanding the number of restaurants and destinations on its site. All reviews are in Thai and there is no plan to introduce English any time soon.
SkiftTake: Keeping reviews in Thai is a selling point for the local platform, according to its CEO Yod Chinsupakul, who sees joining Yelp as one possible business move in the future. Yelp paid $50 million to buy a European reviews site last year so a similar Asian acquisition could be on its radar.
» Tales and Tours offers travelers’ access to mobile multimedia tour guides. The free and paid guides are created by curators from around the world and include maps, video, and photos. The startup is based in Amsterdam.
SkiftTake: There are few details of Tales & Tours revealed on its website and social accounts, but the startup is one of 15 finalists included in The Next Web’s Mobile Startup Rally suggesting its has a business plan that trumps hundred of other entries.