Skift Take

Every travel startup wants to be a travelers' gateway to discovering travel ideas and booking but is a new travel startup any match for the power of Google, the original and likely only effective trip planner?


It’s not a question of whether Google owns local discovery — it’s whether it’s doing that well enough and giving travelers what they need.

With the launch of the Google Trips app last week Google’s latest foray into travel follows the original tool for trip-planning — Google Maps — which virtually every traveler has used for years. And with Google Flights, hotel metasearch and a destinations app during the past five years Google has slowly, but surely, proved that it can cover major sectors of the travel industry. But Google’s travel products like Google Trips, while still hot off the assembly line, could use improvement with offering travelers suggestions specifically relevant to them.

This week’s five startups give travelers alternatives to Google and other popular trip-planning platforms and applications, though we’re hard-pressed to name others besides Google. The startups help travelers book activities last-minute while in destination, tell them about things that they just walked by and help tour businesses automate their online bookings.

TourSnapp is a mobile app that works with local tourism bureaus to give travelers relevant information about sites and attractions that they walk by while exploring cities.

>>SkiftTake: While a service like TourSnapp could come in handy we find it hard to believe that a traveler wouldn’t prefer Googling something that they saw unless the information TourSnapp is serving up is truly unparalleled.

Booking Boss helps tours and activities businesses automate their bookings, manage inventory, improve marketing and analyze revenue sources.

>>SkiftTake: The functions that Booking Boss says it can help with are historically weak points for tours and activities companies who often have outdated websites and aren’t managing bookings efficiently.

SideStory is a platform that lets travelers book tours and activities with local photographers or chefs, for example, that help show alternative sides to a destination.

>>SkiftTake: Hands down, travelers want experiences like these. They just want to know what to expect which can be difficult to define in situations like SideStory.

TourMega is a booking site for tours and activities.

>>SkiftTake: The simple filters that travelers select before they’re shown any tours makes the results seem more personal compared to how many other tours and activities sites present results.

Whym is a mobile app that lets travelers book last-minute tours and activities that’s available in ten cities across the U.S. and Europe.

>>SkiftTake: A lot of tours and activities discovery happens in-destination as travelers increasingly turn to their mobile devices for guidance. We also know that much of that discovery involves travelers finding tour operators in person be it at a hotel front desk or along a main avenue in a city where they decide to book one of those activities last-minute and offline.

For all of our SkiftSeedlings collection, check out our archives here.

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Tags: skiftseedlings, startups

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