You want to go to Thailand and Vietnam, then stop in Japan on your way home. What stands in your way is sifting the cheapest, most convenient itinerary out of the near infinite permutations of flights, trains, and hotels. Unless you have Vamo. Built by the former head of Facebook’s Seattle engineering office, Vamo today opens its multi-stop vacation booking tool to everyone.
Back in July 2013, Vamo raised $1.6 million from a coalition of former Facebookers and angels, then launched in private beta for booking eurotrips in November 2014. Now it’s opening the hatch to the public so anyone can get help booking trips to Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Vamo is free for users, but will earn money on hotel referral fees.
The core tenet of Vamo is “There’s never one right answer”, co-founder Ari Steinberg told me in November. Vamo isn’t trying to send you on some cookie-cutter guided tour. It wants to lay out plenty of different adventure plans and let you choose, while shouldering the weight of finding the cheapest, easiest combinations of travel and lodging.
Since the November release, Vamo has added Save and Share Trip features so friends can bounce itineraries off each other before booking. It’s also been fine tuning its algorithm to select the highest ranked hotels and most convenient airports in the 59 countries it serves.
With Vamo, you enter the countries or cities you want to visit, select if you want the “Best”, “Cheapest”, or “Shortest” route, and say if you have a particular date range in mind. Vamo crunches all the choices and spits out a few possible journeys. You can then tweak one to give you more days in certain spots, or rearrange the route. When you’re ready, you click through to buy your flights and hotels through its partnered providers.
Vamo could make it a little easier to punch in a few countries right away, and complex trips can take a minute or two to load. But it’s still several orders of magnitude faster than doing it yourself.
Basically, Vamo assumes the role of an omniscient travel agent, able to algorithmically juggle every available option. Otherwise, you’d have to pay a human, or clumsily stab around in products like Google, Kayak, or Hipmunk to plan a vacation you’d worry could have been cheaper or more fun.
People are stubborn, though, so even with a more fitting tool it will be tough to displace the big travel search engines. Vamo will also have to fend off fellow multi-stop tools like AirTreks and Wanderio. Luckily, travel is an enormous market. Vamo just has to build a product so useful that when users get back from gallivanting around the world, they share its name with friends, not just their photos.