The online travel booking market is saturated with both large companies and startups which want a share of an $847 billion dollar industry. But in this type of competitive environment, niche sites that offer personalized services that the big guys like Kayak and Expedia can’t do because of scale, can be successful. One such service is Kijubi, a booking engine for local outdoor activities and travel and a TechCrunch50 DemoPit startup. The startup aims to help people book surfing trips, indoor skydiving and other niche outdoor activities on its centralized platform. You can see a live demo of Kijubi and meet the startup’s founders at the DemoPit at next week’s conference. Please note that Kijubi’s site will not be launching until Monday, September 14, but you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to test out the site beforehand.
Kijubi allows you to research, plan and book a myriad of outdoor activities in a variety of locations around the United States, including California, Nevada, Maryland, and Florida. Kijubi’s co-founder and CEO Billy Fried started the company after finding that it was tough for consumers to book niche outdoor activities, like indoor skydiving or surfing lessons, on the internet because many of these independent operations are mom and pop type of businesses that don’t have an online presence.
That’s where Kijubi comes in. The startup aggregates all of these activity operators and will facilitate the booking of these activities for you. Plus, you can book all of your other travel, including flights, cars, and lodging on the site.
From sea kayaking to skydiving to discount theme park passes, Kijubi offers over 70 categories of outdoor activities that you can easily find by theme (i.e. kids, romance, luxury), location, and type (i.e. air, water, land). The beauty of Kijubi is that it’s comprehensive; you can book everything, including air, car, hotels, and activities, on one site. Another notable feature of the site is the ability to gift activities to friends or family.
Similar to other travel sites, Kijubi monetizes through commissions. Each time a user books a flight, activity, hotel etc., Kijubi takes a cut. Kijubi is also providing many activity vendors with the technology for e-commerce platforms, in which the startup is able to take a percentage of credit card processing fees. And of course, Kijubi will be advertising on its site.
As of now, Kijubi only covers four states in the U.S., but plans to expand within the U.S. as well as internationally. Even from personal experience, Kijubi seems like it adds value to the online travel industry. I know that when I’ve traveled, I often leave the planning of the activity portion of the trip until I get to the hotel, which leads to late-bookings and not always being able to participate in a desired activity. Next time, I’ll look too Kijubi to book my hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley or flying lesson in San Diego.
At TechCrunch50’s DemoPit next Monday and Tuesday, Kijubi will be giving away a bunch of cool outdoor activities from indoor skydiving to biking tours through Napa Valley via a Twitter contest. Follow Kijubi and Tweet following message “RT #Kijubi #TechCrunch50 and tell Kijubi why you should win an free pass to try out an outdoor activity like sailing lessons or a bike tour in Napa Valley. The most creative tweets will win activities. You can also enter by dropping a business card at Kijubi’s booth at the DemoPit.