Does the world need more travel sites and search engines? UpTake (formerly Kango) thinks so. Travel is one of the most developed and “mature” verticals online. It’s also one of the most competitive segments. However, there’s still considerable frustration in doing online travel planning notwithstanding the plethora of tools and sites out there — or perhaps precisely because there are so many.
Co-founded by Yen Lee, who was GM of Yahoo Travel, UpTake describes itself as a “travel search and discovery site.” It’s aggregating consumer reviews and listings information from many travel sites to attempt to create a trusted destination to begin travel search. Content comes from Expedia, Fodors, goCityKids, Virtual Tourist, TripAdvisor, Citysearch and Yahoo, among others.
The site analyzes and applies sentiment analysis to the content of reviews to be able to call out attributes like “pool,” “kitchen,” “babysitting” or “oversized rooms.” It also presents ratings from third party sites side-by-side so that users can gain a consensus view of the hotel’s quality and service. This is very helpful because no single travel site can be entirely trusted. By the same token, if UpTake had created a proprietary ranking, which it has the capacity to do, it equally wouldn’t be completely trusted. But the site benefits from its association with these more familiar travel brands and the ability to show their ratings together at once.
Beyond aggregating and analyzing reviews, UpTake hopes to differentiate itself with its “things to do” listings as well as travel “themes” (filters) such as family vacation, pet friendly, romantic, girls getaway, etc. All of these are built on its content analysis.