Utrip Mini-Review • Kayak IPO On • Priceline v. Expedia Semi-opaque booking • How to Pay Abroad • The Shard
Mini-Review: Startup Utrip Aims to Simplify Trip Planning
Seattle-based trip planning site Utrip offers an interesting user experience design. Users first choose a destination city and travel dates. They then set their preferences for trip options such as budget, art, history, nature, spontaneity, pace and cuisine using a series of sliders. The application offers up a day by day itinerary of destination experiences, attractions, dining, entertainment and more.
I tried out the site and found it very easy to use but limited—it only covers twelve European cities. The site is still in beta and I encountered at least one bug: I wasn’t able to get beyond the landing page after choosing Paris and my dates. After reloading, the bug didn’t reoccur.
I found it engaging to tweak my trip length, budget and preferences and see what sorts of itineraries it offered. Travel aficionados will want to check out the site and see what interesting destination experiences it suggests.
Tnooz has a background story and Q&A with CEO Gilad Berenstein:
Kayak to IPO at $25 per Share
The on-again-off-again Kayak IPO is on-again and scheduled for the week of July 16, 21 months after it was initially filed in November of 2010. Kayak hopes to raise $100 Million.
Tnooz provides some background information and a link to the roadshow video.
GigaOM includes some year-over-year quarterly revenue and volume numbers.
Priceline, Expedia/Hotwire and Semi-opaque Hotel Booking
This interesting article discusses Priceline’s hotel room opaque bidding model and Priceline’s historical performance compared to Expedia. The original model served Priceline well, but Expedia/Hotwire’s success with semi-opaque bookings, which disclose hotel attributes upfront, have prompted Priceline to respond with its own semi-opaque “Express Deals” offering. The article also notes that Priceline’s reliance on the European market threatens its future performance since more of its revenue comes from Europe as compared to Expedia.
How to Pay Abroad
Experienced travelers have known for years that credit cards offer the best foreign currency exchange rates. Unfortunately most cards have an additional 2.4% average foreign transaction fee. This article lists some cards that don’t have the fee. Many of them feature other excellent travel benefits as well.
Travel Aspirations: London’s Shard
As of July 5th, World travelers have a new landmark to add to their bucket lists. The completion of exterior work on The Shard officially makes it Europe’s tallest building at 309.6 meters (1,016 feet). The skyscraper is a striking addition to the London skyline.