Today San Francisco-based Gogobot, a platform for travelers to search and book hotels, restaurants and other activities, announced the launch of its Android app. The company’s database covers more than 60,000 destinations around the globe and was already available on iPhone and the web. Since launching in 2010, the company has amassed 2.5 million registered users, which grew substantially over the course of 2012.
According to CEO and co-founder Travis Katz, 40 percent of Gogobot’s traffic came from mobile last year, and with Android’s market share now at more than 70 percent worldwide, he said it was a clear next step for the travel platform. “It’s a huge step for us in terms of really rounding out our mobile offering and helping to tap the broader mobile audience,” said Katz in an interview. “Even with iOS, mobile has really been driving business for us at Gogobot.”
Originally launched in 2010, Katz saw the opportunity for the social travel app while continuously running into frustrations planning weekend getaways. According to him, at the time the options either ranged from traditional travel guides like LonelyPlanet to review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, however both were inundated with content from anonymous users that often required a lot of curation to be useful.
His answer to the pain point was a travel app that tapped into a user’s social graph via Facebook or Twitter to find reviews and recommendations from people they knew and trusted. Today, the app has evolved to include content on attractions, restaurants, and hotels from all around the world. In addition to detailed location and contact information, the company has also integrated with Booking.com to let users book hotels directly through its mobile app, in addition to partnering with OpenTable to make restaurant reservations. Currently, the company’s main revenue stream is affiliate revenue from bookings made via its apps.
Some of the social features on Gogobot include being able to create digital postcards of photos with filters and custom titles, in addition to being able to check-in to a location, which shows up on a user’s Gogobot passport. It has also now added the ability to use Google Street View to let users get a 360-degree panoramic view of a location.
“Gogobot is a place for people who love to travel to come to connect with other people and travelers with similar taste to get the insider tips about the best places to go, the best hotels, the best restaurants, bars, all the hidden gems that are otherwise hard to find,” Katz added. “Ultimately our goal is to help people plan the perfect trip and always find the best places to go whether they’re looking in real-time on mobile and they’re in the destination or planning ahead.”
The travel guide industry has evolved and experienced significant traction from startups looking to disrupt the traditional approach to planning trips. Everything from Guidepal and Triposo, which focus on editorial and a curated content approach, to more photo-based apps like Trover and Siri-like intelligent planning apps like Desti. Despite all the activity, Katz sees TripAdvisor, Yelp, and foursquare as its biggest competitors, and believes Gogobot’s focus on personalized content and the ability to book hotels and restaurants in-app is what will continue to help it gain traction.
The launch of the Android app has the company believing it needs to continue on this track to be a mobile-first company, with more and more of its users turning to its mobile apps to access its services. It will continue integrating social data for more personalized recommendations according to a user’s tastes and interactions with the app. In addition, it will offer real-time pricing for its booking features. With travelers more likely to turn to friends’ recommendation to save themselves the trouble of sorting through a continually growing pile of content, Gogobot has the potential to tap into a need to simplify the planning process while still ensuring a quality trip.