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Rich Barton's New Startup to Re-think Travel Planning

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It’s hard not to be intrigued by the bits of information that have filtered out of stealthy startup New Travelco. It’s from Expedia, Zillow and Glassdoor founder Rich Barton, along with other “early Expedians” including Greg Slyngstad, co-founder of VacationSpot and board member of Kayak. And it’s already raised $9.8 million from General Catalyst Partners, Ignition Partners and Benchmark Capital (where Barton is also a venture partner), and recently acquired TravelPost (a TripAdvisor competitor focused on hotels) from Kayak, giving Kayak equity in return.

So what is New Travelco doing? Barton tells us that the company is “re-thinking travel planning” given “the big travel sites were all conceived in a different era.” Slyngstad’s idea to buy TravelPost was actually the genesis of the company, according to Barton, who is serving as chairman while Slyngstad is CEO. TravelPost does accept user reviews but it’s more of an aggregator, parsing and combining hotel reviews from places like Yahoo (s YHOO) and

“Online travel is a massive space and will continue to evolve,” Slyngstad added via email. “When Kayak was launched in 2005, people were asking the same question about startup going against 4 very big, entrenched players. Kayak has built a sizable, highly profitable business and is now nipping at the heels of the big entrenched players.” Barton also pointed to the “heterogeneous” nature of the travel category as reason there’s room for another successful player.

In a sort of mission statement on its web site, New Travelco says it believes “The increasing power of transparency, connectivity, and mobility will continue to open new worlds to travelers and new channels for suppliers.”

As far as opportunities to innovate go, TripAdvisor, one of the original user-generated sites that’s actually owned by Expedia, is somewhat hip with the times — it has the requisite Facebook Connect integration and iPhone (s AAPL) app, though there’s certainly more that could be done. In terms of trip planning, the current hotshot is TripIt, which offers nifty integrations to help travelers organize and access their travel information on the go. But it’s not the only one who does that; Kayak, for instance, recently added similar features to its popular iPhone app.

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8 Responses to “Rich Barton's New Startup to Re-think Travel Planning”

  1. Agree with Ron’s comment about TripIt. It’s not a trip planning tool and the others mentioned come closer but the whole area of the “Dream – Learn – Plan” phase of the process leisure travelers go through is open for a truly innovative solution and one that is integrated effectively with the “Go” part which was the main focus of all the first online travel start-ups like Expedia, Travelocity etc. With their high personal recognition level and involvement by Kayak this new start-up might well succeed in getting the traction the other companies mentioned have not succeeded in getting so far.

  2. It will interesting to see what experienced travel insiders can do that other travel insiders have not discovered, but it’s a big travel world out there.

    I do have to disagree with Liz regarding TripIt. Their value is in turning your purchases into an itinerary, but they don’t help you create the itinerary (i.e. the planning part).

    The current travel planning sites that NewTravelCo will compete with are Nile Guide, Travelmuse and TripWolf, all of which have recent VC investments. No one has broken out & become mainstream yet, so we’ll see what happens.

  3. tolleson

    You know what intrigues me? Zillow is pretty long in the tooth if you know what I mean? Wonder why Rich is spending time on Newco. when he talents could be used to find something to do with Zillow. What is their end game? To be a start-up for ten years?