Does the web need another travel service? TripTrace makes a compelling argument. Founded in 2007 by entrepreneur and computerized map expert David Hose (chairman) and Michael Rubin (CEO), who cut his teeth helping design the Netflix website UI, TripTrace aims to create an engaging, interactive, and completely holistic travel experience.
Most travel sites focus primarily on mundane details such as researching and booking hotels and flights. TripTrace can help with these tasks too, but Hose and Rubin believe a smarter solution is to construct a travel service around an individual’s tastes and preferences. They believe it must also be totally web-based, have strong integration with geographic location, and pull in info from social networking sites as well as the entire Internet.
The result, though still in beta, is a service that’s built around a virtual bookshelf that stores digital tomes to help users research various travel topics. These activities range from planning trips to calculating expected budgets. Users can also manage scrapbooks that present and store maps and places, creating a complete record of where they’ve been and where they’d like to go. The ultimate shape of TripTrace is yet to fully form, but it holds promise. The interface is especially suited for tablets, which complement the site’s book motif.
Why the Competition Should Care
TripTrace’s assertion that other popular travel services usually just handle the core functions of trip planning is true. Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and even newcomer TripIt are more targeted at business travelers who simply need to know where, when, and how to get to their destinations. TripTrace is something else all together, offering a way to plan, store, and share travel information in a scrapbook or album format. TripTrace launched a Google OS web app along with an iPhone app in December of 2010. There are no confirmed plans for an iPad app yet, but CEO Michael Rubin admitted that he thinks TripTrace would be great on the device.
Last year, TripTrace got into a spat with Facebook over its original name, Placebook. Threatened with legal action, TripTrace dropped the Placebook moniker. Although the company avoided legal trouble by adopting a new brand, TripTrace lost valuable time needed to get its service up and running. The website was officially redesigned and launched in August 2010.
We believe that the best chance for TripTrace to really catch on—besides developing a tablet app—is for the company to pull in data not just from social networking sites but also from other travel services. The real beauty of this startup is that it will let travelers store and share all their trips with others in a way that’s engaging and elegant.