My strategy when traveling is just to wing it, for better or worse. Last week I spent some time in Stockholm for the NordicAPIs conference, and even though I've been to the city a lot, I still didn't know what I was doing, and I noticed I just go to the same places I always go. I probably should have checked out Oslo-based Stay before my trip, which has updated their travel app quite heavily since we covered them a year ago, now tweaking their social features and have now announced their Trusted Traveler program to provide unique guides to cities and scenes.
Helsinki-based Cabforce has now opened their API, allowing travel companies to take advantage of Cabforce's network and technology that allows the pre-booking of taxi and executive cars, with the total price calculated at the time of booking
Booking a taxi at the same time you book a flight or other travel leg is a growing trend, as it opens up a new revenue path, and Cabforce has built a solid network of 60 travel destinations and counting, with the majority of coverage focused in Europe. Recently they have also expanded into New York - their first "overseas" destination.
Editor's Note: This is a Guest Post by Antti Virolainen, CTO of Sharetribe.
How can you spend a year traveling in some of the most beautiful places on earth, and at the same time, work full time on your startup and push it to the international markets?
This is a story of a year in my life as an entrepreneur, working full time as a CTO of my early stage tech startup Sharetribe (earlier known as Kassi). It’s probably not your average story though. The year included backpacking through South America, crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship, hiking and riding on the Andes, surfing on three continents, learning a new language for sales presentations, climbing volcanoes in Indonesia, participating in a startup incubator program in Chile, living in an entrepreneurial community in the tropical paradise of Bali, and much more.
Stay.com, the Norway based travel startup has come out with a new version of its travel app. Last October we had a detailed write up of the company and how it became to be. For this summer, the company has made its city guides social and user friendly with making them work offline. The applications work on Android and the iOS platforms.
The app features some 116 cities which users are able to download to their phones with a simple tap. Each city guide has numerous sites to visit, restaurants to eat at and places to go. Also, not to mention an offline map that works with the iPhone's positioning system showing how lost you might be. Going offline with the city guides helps with the horrendous data roaming costs one can churn overseas.
These days, social travel startups the likes of Tripbirds, Tripl, (and maybe even Everplaces?) have been catching our eye. But unless you have a lot cooler friends than I do, they seem to be missing the critical mass to provide the content you need when you arrive in a new city. One Swedish travel startup that we haven't covered since 2010, but has been quietly growing in terms of usage, downloads, and content is Guidepal.
The company was founded in 2009 with the right idea that guidebooks would moving onto smartphones, and since then has seen over 3,5 million downloads and 600,000 registered users from over 170 countries.
The 60 Guidepal apps are broken down by city and are free to download on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and WP7. Each app provides information on the local restaurants, nightlife, sights, as well as the practicalities. And all the information and maps are available offline. To be sure all the information is fresh and up to date, Guidpal updates the cities information every two months with local guides and travel journalists.
One Swedish startup that's in private beta, but still has popped up on our radar a few times is Tripbirds. We got in touch with the company and found out that they're building a social travel site based on Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Instagram to make it easier to get travel recommendations from your friends.
So say if you're going to Paris, Tripbirds would allow you to easily access your friends' check-ins and location tagged pictures to see where they've visited, so you can find or ask for recommendations. In this way you're able to get real reviews from people you trust, and not fake "outstanding!" reviews from hotel owners. This also allows you to get more personal recommendations than what non-partisan guides like Lonely Planet tell everyone.
A great travel site that was featured on Time Magazine's 2010 list of the Best 100 Websites somehow slipped our radar. Oslo based Stay.com is a travel website and iPhone/Android app that allows you to create your own personalized travel guide using exclusive information from 114 cities over the world. But Stay isn't just some nice website with travel pictures; Stay.com's cool feature is how easily you can access your sightseeing information offline.
Customers today have an increasing number of ways to interact with brands or physical venues. They can participate in online communities in social media, voice their feedback on Twitter, check-in almost anywhere and benefit from discounted coupons. There is also a growing number of companies that help traditional industries and physical venues interact with their customers. The latest example from this region is Reach.ly, a Latvian start-up that has just launched a service for hotels to reach out to potential customers through Twitter. Their idea is fairly simple: tweets about travel are one of the top themes on Twitter; by capturing specific tweets that feature a town of destination and delivering them in a real-time stream to hotels Reach.ly help hotel administration easily reach out to prospective customers.
Finnish start-up Cabforce entered the the taxi business scene back in 2010 with plans of building an IT solution for taxi entrepreneurs. The platform provided a web-based dispatch and fleet-management tool along with multichannel booking tools for passengers. This also included a user friendly software that helps cab drivers interact with both clients and dispatchers. Earlier last week Cabforce made announcement on expanding its cab business globally.
Organizing a travel plan or a trip is a definite nightmare. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why we are always seeing one service after another attempt at tackling the problem. Planify is one more that emerged as the winner of the Garage48 Riga. The idea? It emerged from need as the Silver Hage, Co-founder of Planify made plans for his Tokyo trip and couldn’t find any tool useful enough. This led to the creation of Planify.
There are a countless sites and services online that cater to helping you plan a trip, book hotels or even find what places are interesting to visit while you are in a city. And I guess there will be many more surfacing as we see the approach shift from global to very local. Our attention today is at Globified, the latest startup catering to your travel needs.
TripSay announced a couple of days ago their partnership with Helsingin Sanomat, the largest daily newspaper in Finland, on their hotel search. Helsingin Sanomat is using TripSay's hotel search as part of their travel pages targeted at Finns.
The service is a co-branded partnership where the community is run by Helsingin Sanomat, the hotel search by TripSat and the actual hotel listing and data by Booking.com. Read more about the partnership on TripSay blog.
Traveas, a Swedish travel information startup, has signed a deal with travel agency network European Travel Interactive AB (eTRAVELi). eTRAVELi operates big travel sites under different brands such as Seat24, Supersaver, Flygvaruhuset, EasyT, Töölö, and Travelfinder in seven European countries.
The founders state they want to give travelers a chance to plan their trips easier and faster. In the future, the BlueWalks team also wants to eliminate the need to carry along travel books and other material. The value proposition is users can create and browse unlimited amount of different routes around various points of interest, compared just a few routes typically listed in printed travel guides.
BlueWalks has been founded by an international team of students from the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship (SSES). The team members have roots in Sweden, Spain, Singapore, and China, providing a global view into developing the service. BlueWalks just took part in the international business plan competition Venture Challenge in San Diego, sent as a delegate of SSES. (Well, international in this case seems to mean that out of 25 teams 1 was from Canada, BlueWalks from Sweden, and the other 23 teams from the U.S.) BlueWalks did not get to the final, though.
The Dopplr Frequent Travel SIM card is available in both Dopplr’s and MAXroam online shops (although Dopplr's shop just links to the latter). It is promised to work in 170 countries on 450 mobile networks. According to Cubic Telecom’s CEO Pat Phelan with MaxRoam’s SIM card one can save at minimum 70% on mobile travel bills.
Dopplr allows making of travel plans and sharing them with friends to highlight overlapping visits of same cities at the same time. Cubic Telecom offers a variety of mobile network services starting from infrastructure backend. Dopplr has also some other travel products available in its shop, for example Offbeat travel guides. A somewhat limited offering still, but likely growing quickly.