This week’s roundup looks at startups that use data — both big and small — to make easier everything from hotel bookings to flight reservations to activity suggestions.



Options Away lets travelers hold flights for three to 21 days for a small fee. Travelers can commit and buy the fare within the allotted time or let the hold expire without further penalty. The average rate for holding flights is $10 for three days to $41 for 21 days.

SkiftTake: Options Away creates a revenue opportunity for the aviation industry early in the travel planning process. There’s not only a clear way to generate money, but the process allows brands to engage customers before they’ve made a final purchase commitment.

Olset uses big data to make hotel bookings easier and faster for users. The platform highlights hotels that match users’ profiles and categorizes million of traveler reviews to give hotels a unique ranking. Olset can also detect travel plans on users’ calendars to automatically offer them their preferred hotels. Olset is launching its beta product with partnerships with GetGoing and Any.Do.

SkiftTake: Olset’s technology that reads customers’ calendars to offer personalized hotel options might seem creepy, but it’s the virtual automated version of a travel assistant and is guaranteed to interest unmanaged business travelers and small business owners.

FestPop is a travel planning website where music fans can discover, plan, and book travel to music festivals. Users can search through a database with all U.S. festivals, find pre-sale and sold-out tickets, look at a curated selection of trip gear or outfits, and book airlines or hotel via Priceline’s Partner Network.

SkiftTake: Although Festpop targets a niche group of travelers, it is within the boundaries of a huge market. Curating trip experiences to all types of festival attendees allows Festpop to specialize in a specific market of the travel industry with tons of room for growth.

TripGems is building a database of travel tips for events and activities. Once users select their destination, the TripGems community is invited to share tips. Users also record their own activities to share with the TripGems community. The startup launched in June 2013.

SkiftTake: Connecting users to local tours and activity providers looks like the natural next step for TripGems once it build up a community of active users. However, building that base of uses may prove difficult with review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp already the go-to platform for locals and travelers alike.

Grata is a chat app that connects travelers with hotel concierges and boutique travel agents for help with reservations, room service, and flight bookings. The real-time travel service increases brand loyalty and drives bookings. Grata is currently used by 25 hospitality brands in China.

SkiftTake: Hotels’ customer service is evolving to make communication and transactions easier for guests. This means mobile apps will increasingly allow customers to immediately connect to staff and make requests from outside of the hotel.

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Tags: skiftseedlings, travel apps

Photo credit: Grata is a chat app that connects travelers with hotel concierges and boutique travel agents for help with reservations, room service, and flight bookings. Grata

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