Travora Wants First Class Seat to Consolidation in Online Travel
Between William Shatner playing pitchman for Priceline and those quirky ads from Kayak, competition is intensifying in the online travel market. In fact the Web is getting rather crowded with search engines for lodging and portals for discovering new places to visit. Travora.com in New York launched this month with its eye on bringing such dispersed information together into one platform.
Nan-Kirsten Forte, CEO of parent company Travora Media, says Travora.com was created for travelers who want real-time information about their destinations in an easy-to-find place. Travora Media owns other travel websites such as 10Best.com, Nileguide.com, Localyte.com, and TopTrips.com.
The new site, Travora.com, brews a curious mix of travel information together. Need to know the cost of a McDonald’s Big Mac in Shanghai? Want to make a hotel reservation in Barcelona? Curious what the food servings are like at the Abyssinias Café in Athens? Travora’s dashboard offers its users answers to these and other questions. “You’re never going to land somewhere and not know what is going on [at your destination],” Forte says.
The site offers curated content such as news and events from other travel information sources as well as original material. To be candid, Travora.com is still in its nascent form with sparse details for some destinations. But Forte says more content and features are expected by the end of November.
She aims to establish Travora.com as a resource for business and casual travelers. It can be used by commuters who want to know more about the nearby cities they regularly travel back and forth to. The website may also recommend apps designed to be used locally at the destinations. “For the Louvre, there are three different apps you can download to walk you through that museum,” she says. Each app may offer a different kind of tour, she says.
The Travora dashboard shows local times, currency exchange rates, and local happenings that travelers might have missed otherwise. Sometimes travelers can be shocked by what they find at their destinations. Forte says she could have used Travora a few years ago on a family trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Martin—in the midst of a dengue fever outbreak. “I probably could have gone to the [Center for Disease Control] website ahead of time but I don’t check there for all my destinations,” she says.
Travora generates revenue through advertising as well as sponsorships. Parent company Travora Media previously raised more than $30 million from backers including Rho Ventures, Village Ventures, StarVest Partners, Austin Ventures, and Tenaya Capital. Forte says she may seek additional funding to help scale up Travora.com, which would include a social feature with recommendations and real-time information shared by users who are traveling.
She believes Travora can attract travelers by tying together reviews, along the lines of TripAdvisor, more closely with social recommendations on travel, akin to what services such as Trippy and Gogobot offer.
With so many players offering different content and services to the travel sector, Forte expects mergers and buyouts may be in the offing. She points to TripAdvisor’s acquisition early this month of Pinterest-like travel recommendation site Wanderfly as an example. “The travel vertical reminds me a lot of the [online] health vertical 15 years ago,” she says. “Huge consolidation is going to take place in travel.”
Forte has seen how mergers and reshape an industry. Prior to becoming CEO of Travora Media in fall 2011, she worked for more than a decade at online health information service WebMD where she recently served as chief innovation officer. She says the health sector evolved from many specialized websites into larger websites that offered multiple services. “There were sites that just informed us about drugs, and there were sites that just talked to us about our symptoms,” she says.