TripAdvisor scoops up social mapping service Citymaps

New York-based Citymaps, a social mapping application backed by $12 million in venture funding, has been acquired by TripAdvisor, the companies have announced. The service, which serves both as a mapping and navigational tool as well as a travel guide of sorts, will continue on as a standalone business at TripAdvisor, following the deal’s close.

Deal terms were not disclosed.

Co-founded by Elliot Cohen and Aaron Rudenstine in 2010, the startup began as an app that aggregated business information from third-party sources, including social networks, before turning into the more fully-functional tool for travelers it is today.

Though most consumers today are content with using standard mapping applications like those from Apple and Google, Citymaps was still able to carve out a niche for itself by offering a feature set that the big guys’ didn’t have.

While most maps can get you from point A to point B, Citymaps’ most notable differentiator is that it focuses on points of interest. You can certainly find things like museums, shops, and restaurants in traditional mapping applications, of course, but Citymaps really highlights these things – it puts their logos right on the map’s interface itself, so you can navigate by looking for places you recognize, instead of just street names.

When you tap on a point of interest, you can view more information, see photos, read reviews and more – something that’s akin to a Yelp-like experience in the app. But what makes Citymaps useful is that you can also save these places to your own personalized collection. These custom maps – like one featuring your favorite local restaurants, for example – can then be accessed at any time or even shared with friends or the wider Citymaps’ community.

Earlier this year, the company rolled out offline maps, built on its own proprietary technology, and introduced CityGuides.

These curated guides include places of interest that can be downloaded as maps and used when internet access wasn’t available. The content for the guides came from WikiTravel, and was paired with customized maps that Citymaps’s 200+ publishing partners had produced. That group includes partners like BuzzFeed, Travel + Leisure, or the New York Times’ 36 Hours column, for instance.

In addition, the Citymaps app integrates with a variety of services that offer booking features and deals, like OpenTable, Groupon, Travelzoo, Viator (event tickets), Ticketmaster, Songkick and others.

As of March, Citymaps reported having around 1 million users. That’s a decent number – especially considering the competition in the mapping and travel space – but perhaps not one large enough to sustain the business. It generated revenue through partnerships, advertising, licensing and booking deals.

TripAdvisor, meanwhile, is one of the biggest brands in the travel space, and today operates in 48 countries around the world. Its sites reach 350 million average monthly visitors, and feature 385 million reviews and opinions on 6.6 million hotels, vacation rentals, restaurants and attractions. The company has its own mapping features which focus on helping travelers find and book things at their destinations, and this is where it plans to leverage the Citymaps acquisition.

“The Citymaps team understands how people experience their day through a maps lens,” said Adam Medros, SVP of global product at TripAdvisor, in a statement. “We are excited to welcome the team to the TripAdvisor family of brands to help TripAdvisor ensure its mapping features best address the needs of its users who are increasingly accessing the site on mobile devices.”

Citymaps is available on iOS, Android, plus mobile and desktop web.