Web 2.0 can be a very empowering movement that cuts out middlemen and gives individuals the ability to perform tasks all on their own. Want to be philanthropic? Lend directly to an entrepreneur using Kiva. Worried about that rash? Look it up on OrganizedWisdom.
But sometimes cutting out the middleman isn’t such a great idea because they actually provide a valuable service, often derived from their expertise. Such is the case with most travel sites. They’ll make it much easier to book flights and hotel rooms, but they won’t help you plan your trip much. That’s where Zicasso, a new site launching Monday, steps in.
Zicasso is like LendingTree (you know, “when banks compete, you win”?) except applied to travel agents and tour operators.
If you want to take a vacation, Zicasso will help you line up the perfect trip without the hassle of planning it yourself. All you have to do is submit a description of where you’re looking to go (Paris? Mexico City?) and what you’re looking to do (visit museums? ride bikes?). Zicasso will then send your description to a network of 100 service providers, four of which will get back to you with proposed itineraries within two days. You can then compare their offerings and decide which one to follow up with. Zicasso can provide this service for free because it takes a slice of the commission from agents.
This method differs from those of other travel guide sites like Responsible Travel and Infohub because here the travel agents do all the work for the traveler. As a result, travelers get more personalized travel packages and a better value from the bidding process. At the same time, travel agents large and small have the opportunity to compete for customers on a global scale.
Zicasso also provides an online community area with forums, travel blogs, and the like. I can see the whole service as becoming very popular with busy professionals who like to travel but don’t have the time to research vacations. Since time is money for them, they should leap at the opportunity to find this help through the web.