Have a hankering to take a few days off and go somewhere? A new startup called Wanderfly, which just launched today, wants to help inspire you. Type in your approximate travel dates, budget, duration and interests, and Wanderfly will serve up a set of glossy options with sample itineraries laid out. You can customize an intinerary to your tastes and book directly through the site.
For example, I said I wanted to take four days at the end of this month to go somewhere “eco” and “outdoors” with “romance” for under $1,000 from San Francisco, and Wanderfly mocked up trips for me to Bishop, Calif.; Ensenada, Mexico; and Edmonton, Alberta. I’m not sure I want to go to Canada at the end of October, but maybe I’m just a weenie.
New York-based Wanderfly is one of a few new startups attempting to create a more human approach to travel. Like Hipmunk — the flight search startup that provides some incredibly useful interface tweaks on top of an Orbitz affiliate agreement — Wanderfly uses flight and hotel data from Expedia. It also mashes up local activity recommendations from content partners like Yelp, Lonely Planet and Not for Tourists, and if you connect with Facebook, your recommendations include seeing local friends and sharing your trip plans with them.
Even if you think of sites like Wanderfly and Hipmunk as just skins for existing travel booking providers, they often give a preferable and innovative experience. Whether or not they can become a real business, and avoid getting ripped off by the big guys, remains to be seen. Wanderfly was founded a year ago, has about 10 employees, and has taken under $1 million in angel funding (it’s currently raising an additional round), and has been in private beta for the last three months with 7,000 users. Co-founder Christy Liu said the company sees itself as a sort of Pandora or Netflix for travel, and hopes to increasingly evolve and personalize its recommendations based on user behavior and additional travel and content partners.
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