Today NYC-based flight experience search engine Routehappy announced that it has added $1.5 million in seed funding from investors including High Peaks Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners and VoCap Ventures, with participation from several angel investors in the travel industry. The company aims to be the Yelp for the airline industry, and since launching in beta in March 2012, Routehappy has gathered over 90,000 ratings and comments from users, and debuted its iPhone app in August 2012.
Routehappy CEO Robert Albert said the company’s goal is to combine technology, data and community to help travelers “take back the air,” and that the new funding will be used for product development, hiring, and marketing. “We’re aiming for a full launch at the end of the year with a host of really important new features for users,” Albert said, including mapping comprehensive amenity data across all airlines (right now the tool tracks info for 60 airlines). He also said they’ll be adding shopping links so users can see reviews and amenities next to pricing information.
Routehappy maps amenities by aircraft for top U.S. and international airlines, giving travelers a glimpse into what their seat will be like (entertainment type, legroom, etc), as well as collects reviews from travelers on their flying experiences. The site crowdsources reviews from fellow travelers to gather information on everything from what restaurants are in a given airport, to the best security line to stand in, to flight experiences.
Along with the average traveler, the site also gathers reviews from its team of Route Experts, who Albert said try to uncover the “hidden gems and fliers beware” tips. Route Experts are appointed based on the number of points they’ve amassed, which members can build by adding reviews, providing in-depth reviews, and getting feedback from other members.
The company will be generating revenue through advertising, and taking an affiliate fee when they direct someone to book a flight on an airline’s website. Albert said the company is also planning to syndicate its rating data to corporate booking sites, airline sites and booking tools, so travelers will be able to see Routehappy ratings on sites like Expedia. The company is also planning to sell their insights on a subscription basis to air industry insiders, so airlines can use the Routehappy dashboard to track consumer ratings by flier type, timeframe, aircraft type, region, or to track competitive data. “On an ongoing basis they have data, really highly actionable data, coming in that they can use to improve the business,” Albert said.
While other travel resources are trying to provide a glimpse into travel amenities and reviews, they’re usually tackling one aspect of the experience rather than trying to pair airline data with traveler reviews. GateGuru‘s mobile app tries to help travelers get access to flight info, though it’s focused solely on the airport experience, offering tips, maps, and food options. TripAdvisor’s SeatGuru app maps aircraft amenities so fliers can check out how much legroom they’ll have on a given flight. And new app FlyRight is trying to give fliers a way to voice their complaints to airlines, but is focusing more on resolving traveler issues than compiling a comprehensive database of airline information.
Routehappy has a solid plan for revenue and an advisory board that includes TripIt founder and Hotwire founding member Scott Hintz, as well as former Virgin America CMO Porter Gale. In addition to adding more airlines and launching their content syndication and data offerings, Albert said they’ll also be using the funding to add more social features, and to build out the mobile apps, including adding an Android app. “When fliers are in motion, they need these tools,” he said. Finding a way to work with airlines and travel sites, both to sell their insights and add their ratings to third-party booking sites, will be their key to expansion, and to helping travelers take back the skies.