If you’re looking for stuff to do, in a new city or your own, there are various ways to get that info, including Yelp, Zvents, Frommer’s guides and more. Waterloo-based Rebellion Media would rather all that data was collected in a single hub, however, where travelers could get a quick look at everything they need for trip planning in a single place, based on a map-centric interface that’s fast and easy to use, which is why they created TripWhat.
TripWhat is a travel-oriented search engine for iPhone and web. There are lots of different travel apps out there, which is why I asked TripWhat co-founder Chris Reid about the decision to add another one to the mix. After all, even if there’s still a lot of demand for travel products out there among consumers, it’s beginning to get harder to distinguish yourself as an app in the travel category.
“One problem we really see is that a lot of this information is siloed, so you’ll have something like SeatGeek, you’ll have Wikipedia, you’ll have Yelp, you’ll have Urbanspoon and you’ll have OpenTable,” he said. “So everyone has their own siloed data set, a little bit of info and a little bit of value-add that the other one doesn’t, so if you’re trying to figure out what’s best in a region, normally you’d have to search across all these siloes to piece it together.”
TripWhat’s goal, then, is to unify all this data across separate contexts, meaning that if there’s a band playing an event that SeatGeek knows about, for instance, TripWhat will eventually be able to draw that info in and combine it with data pulled from other sources like Wikipedia and Last.fm for richer context. The ultimate hope is that travelers will be able to go to any city, enter a broad search term related to their interest, and be provided with smart results properly filled out with signals from any relevant data source, to help them build their perfect trip.
With TripWhat’s version one product, you can see the seeds of that larger goal at work; in densely populated areas, it already returns a number of results, and does so quickly, spanning events, restaurants and attractions. Users on mobile can also save their trip for later personal use, and on the web they can do the same, but there trips will be saved to the server and pushed back down to the iPhone app. Eventually, TripWhat hopes to be able to offer community-curated trips searchable by keyword – already it has built some of its own to show how this will look once the curation elements are in place.
Rebellion Media, which is a conglomerate of various startups from the Kitchener-Waterloo area, is using a lot of the natural language and data processing techniques it acquired when it picked up gadget shopping comparison startup Sortable last year. Its project with TripWhat is big and ambitious, but it’s starting with some solid ingredients, including a Google Maps for iOS-inspired design that suits the travel purpose of the app. If it can flesh out this first release to match its larger vision, it stands a chance of distinguishing itself in this crowded market.