TripIt, a new travel service started by Hotwire co-founder Gregg Brockway and fellow Hotwire alumnus Scott Hintz, is looking for a few frequent travelers to participate in a closed beta of a new itinerary management service. (Note: O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures is an investor in TripIt.)
There are lots of online booking and reservations services, but TripIt is marking out a new niche: personal travel organizer. Gregg Brockway describes the service as follows:
Online travel is more than a decade old and travelers use multiple sites to book their trips. TripIt is the next wave in online travel, helping travelers consolidate and organize all their travel no matter where they book.
With TripIt, you simply email us your travel confirmation emails and we do the rest. First, we’ll automatically add the basic information you need to make almost every trip easier, such as maps, weather, directions, destination info and more. Second, we’ll help you share your travel plans with the people who need to know–friends, family & co-workers. Third, with a consolidated view of your plans, we can anticipate user needs and make relevant suggestions. Finally, by integrating with the applications people use most, TripIt will give you access to the right information when and where you need it – online, in print, via mobile, or in your calendar.
Travel is hard enough without having to worry about keeping track of your trip details, let alone your friends’ plans. Like a good personal assistant, TripIt takes care of the details for you.
What I find fascinating about tripit from a trendspotting point of view is the idea of an email-enabled personal assistant. Rael Dornfest’s Stikkit (in which I am personally an investor and board member) is exploring this same frontier (though not for travel), especially with its Sandy project. I’m seeing a lot of folks trying to figure out how to parse the information flow that’s coming at us, and use email, SMS, and RSS as transports not to other people but to intelligent agents designed to make use of the semi-structured information that is flowing along those pipes. In a way, you can think of these as communications mashup platforms, combining data from our communication streams rather than from database-backed websites. They monitor, convert, and return data to the user in a more useful form.
There’s a kind of magic to forwarding on a travel confirmation from an airline or a hotel reservation and having them aggregated into an itinerary, along with automagically-added maps of the destination, local weather, and other useful information. I’ll often put together a packet like this for a trip I’m taking, but that’s a manual process.
We have 100 invites to the TripIt closed beta for Radar readers. Frequent travelers who book online are much preferred. We’ve set up a registration site at www.oreilly.tripit.com for people to sign up. If we get more than 100, we will add them when we expand the program. (People can also sign up for updates at the www.tripit.com splash page.)
If you’re a heavy traveler who puts together complex itineraries, you’re the kind of person we’re looking for. ( Joi Ito and Esther Dyson, are you listening? )