Remember the last time you planned a trip somewhere? Maybe it was somewhere exotic — you spent weeks in Southeast Asia, or maybe you just spent a weekend in a city you’ve never been to before, like San Diego. Chances are you spent several hours beforehand scouring ugly websites like TripAdvisor or searching through travel guides to find things to do. Maybe you asked for suggestions from friends and were met with 3,000-word long suggestions for places to visit for your 4-day excursion. When you actually got to your destination, your notes were scattered across multiple e-mails, Google docks, and guidebooks. And then there’s the process of actually booking tours or buying tickets for various highly recommended activities.
The founders behind new, online travel site Peek believe there’s a better way. Launching today, Peek is an alternative to the fragmented, painful Web 1.0 experiences that most travelers have become used to. Combining beautiful design, smart editorial content, and e-commerce, Peek seeks to offer helpful suggestions about things to do in a foreign city, along with the ability to actually plan and book events and experiences all in one place.
Travel is a huge industry, but it’s also hugely fragmented. According to Peek founder Ruzwana Bashir, more than 80 percent of travelers research online before going to a destination, but only 20 percent of activities are actually booked online. That’s because most vendors aren’t even online, and if they are, they likely have a website built in the last century with no real e-commerce tools.
Peek aggregates information about dozens of activities that are available for travelers, both free and paid. It works with local vendors to allow users to book various activities directly on the site, rather than having to take note of what they want to do and then later buy tickets or pay offline, expediting the process for planning trips. In addition to all the editorial content that it’s produced itself, it’s also curated “Perfect Day” insider tips from celebrities such as Piers Morgan, Tory Burch, and French Laundry chef Timothy Hollingsworth.
For now, Peek is launching with content from two main regions — Hawaii and California (San Francisco, Napa, San Diego) — but it will be expanding soon. That will likely mean adding destinations like Mexico or the Northeast (New York and Boston) next. And it’ll go from there, adding new markets as it’s able to connect with local vendors and create content about more cities.
Peek has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from an impressive group of investors, including Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, SV Angel, and Khosla Ventures. It was founded by Bashir, who previously worked at Gilt Groupe, Art.sy, Blackstone, and Goldman Sachs, and Oskar Bruening, who worked at VMWare and Symantec.