Our wish for 2014 is that startups stop wasting time trying to become the Facebook of travel and creating planning tools that only complicate the pre-trip process. Below are five examples of startups that use social media to improve or expedite the trip planning or sharing process, rather than drag it out.
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>> CarryOn is a social travel planning site that lowers airfares and hotel rates as the number of users following the deal increases. The site uses the power of group pricing to decrease rates by up to 40 percent. It encourages users to share deals with friends via social media.
SkiftTake: CarryOn adequately incentivizes users to share travel plans with their social networks by offering price discounts, but the site could also become a go-to for already organized groups looking for a quick fare cut.
>> Jauntful is a platform where users can create and share printable guides with their favorite travel tips. Users can locations, add descriptions, and numbered bubbles point out where they are on a city map.
SkiftTake: The startup points to Airbnb hosts as the kind of hosts that can use the platform to create easy-to-follow guides for their guests, but the same could be done by hotels or hosts who want to share their local insights for a small area or neighborhood.
>> Butu is a trip planning platform where users can create their own trip itineraries or view and save elements of others’ trip reports. Butu keeps track of users’ past travel preferences to suggest similar activities for new and future itineraries.
SkiftTake: Trip planning and itinerary sharing platforms are a dime a dozen today, but when it comes to sharing, travelers continue to show preference for quick updates via social media rather than long-form detailed reports.
>> Travees is a budgeting app for business and solo travelers. Users can measure spending against their budget and keep track of expenses. The app has not yet been released.
SkiftTake: Designing the app specifically for travel, differentiates Travees from other mainstream budgeting tools. However, the success of Travees still depends on how well designed it is and how easy it is to keep track of expenses.
>> Jetpac City Guides searches though public Instagram accounts to create curated city guides. Photos are up voted and organized into top ten lists based on the user’s interests like foodies, music lovers, or outdoors activities. The app is available now for iOS.
SkiftTake: Individuals are using Instagram for personal trip inspiration, but it’s yet to be turned into an actionable travel planning tool. Jetpac might succeed at that, but Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport also had a smart idea.