The biggest trend in travel has been turning to your friends for travel tips. But what about the research geeks who like to browse blogs, online guides and articles to compile their trip plans?
Well, their job is getting easier with the launch of Dcovery, a new online and mobile tool. Users just install Dcovery’s Place Finder bookmarklet and then go about doing their normal travel research. When they come across a page with travel destinations, attractions or hotels, they just hit the bookmarklet and it scans the page and extracts the specific place data. You just save the entries you like to Dcovery, which adds in the address, map location, hours and other important information and saves the page for offline reading. Users can also just enter in a specific destination and Dcovery saves that place as well.
Dcovery currently scrapes a bunch of place information from open source databases like Wikipedia and Wikitravel and also relies on local information from Google+ and Foursquare.
When a user heads out for a destination, they just pull up Dcovery’s iOS app, which has all of the saved information synced over and available for offline use. You can save a location to your contacts or have Dcovery give you turn-by-turn directions. There’s even a cool taxi mode that lets you turn the iPhone on its side so your destination is written in the local language, allowing a taxi driver to easily take you where you want to go.
If you only have an iOS device for research, you can browse from the app and save locations. Dcovery is also working on getting a bookmarklet created for the iOS Safari browser, which should be available soon. While the current iOS app works on the iPad, Dcovery is building a standalone iPad app as well.
Co-founder and CEO Matt Bellemare said he and co-founder Phil Michaud came up with the idea after they were traveling in Beijing. They found that their research ended up being a lot of notes jotted on paper and circles on maps. And getting around proved especially difficult because they didn’t speak Mandarin.
Bellemare, Michaud and co-founder Max Boulin started the company in Thailand last year and are bootstrapping it so far.
I think Dcovery has a place in the travel planning world. While some people like to hit up a few reliable travel planning sites or others use social travel services like Gogobot or Wanderfly, there’s also a certain number of people who just like to roam far and wide across the web for their travel tips. Dcovery allows them to pull in all of those threads and easily create guides that work on the ground offline. That’s especially important because you don’t always have connectivity when you’re abroad. There are other good travel planning services.
Trippy also lets you create itineraries using a bookmarklet but it’s more photo-based. Triposo, another startup I’ve written about, is also good at saving research for mobile use but you’re limited to browsing through its app. The bigger challenge for Dcovery will be to become a regular resource for users, something many travel startups are struggling with.