More than a virtual vacation

Five Israeli start-ups have developed websites that can help you get the best vacation deal.

For years, the Internet has been a great place to look for the perfect vacation deal as well as offering coupons for restaurants and entertainment venues at the planned destination. Gulliver is one example. Five new Israeli start-ups have entered the market, offering supplementary foreign vacation services, ranging from a social network for backpackers and businesspeople to frequent flyer points management, and easy-to-use holiday planners.

Plnnr: destination day trips planner

Plnnr, founded by CEO Mosi Shuchman and CTO Imri Goldberg, tries to take the hassle out of holiday planning by offering a personalized trip planner, saving time looking at online holiday sites.

After signing up, Plnnr users select their destination from a list of 20 large cities, the travel dates, and type of vacation (with children, nature, popular sites, or arts and culture). The user then selects the quality of the hotel and the intensity of the vacation from relaxed, through light, moderate, energetic, to extreme in order to get in as much as possible.

After the characterizations are inserted, Plnnr offers a daily schedule, which takes into account the opening hours of sites, such as museum and attractions, provides a map with routes by foot or public transport. The schedule can be amended by recommended sites and the time planned to spent at each one.

Superfly for the frequent flyer

Superfly helps subscribers monitor their accumulated frequent flyer miles from credit card deals and airlines. Using frequent flyer miles could easily make it possible to upgrade to business class for a weekend deal in Europe. However, 20 trillion frequent flyer points worth $500-800 billion, are lost annually through non-use.

Superfly founders Yonatan Meiri and Zvika Cohen are trying to exploit this potential through the efficient management of frequent flyer miles and pick the best airline to use. The system also manages points accumulated by car rental clubs and hotel chains.

Superfly already manages more than 300 million miles. To use the service, first register, select the airline, insert your account details, and review the analysis of activity: how many points are still needed for an upgrade, a bonus ticket, and which airline it pays to fly with.

Gogobot: Facebook recommended holidays

Gogobot is a social network platform founded by CEO Travis Katz, an American, and CTO Ori Zaltzman, and Israeli, to save the aggravation of the long and hard search for the best hotel, tastiest restaurant, and most exciting attraction at a destination. The user can share with friends routes, restaurants, and hotels at destinations around the world.

Registration is either directly on the site or via Facebook and read and write recommendations and share them with like-minded friends. It is possible to obtain critiques of restaurants, hotels, and attractions and ask other Gogobot users for recommendations about where to go and what do on your vacation.

YooGuide for the spontaneous day trip

The concept behind YooGuide, founded by Shirley Cohen-Mintz, Yonit Kariri, and Eran Lobl, targets local travelers who want to spend as much time as possible at their destination, taking day trips to local sites. YooGuide's urban trip planner offers personalized recommendation for restaurants, exhibits, shows, and other events for what it calls "Funday". It mainly targets the spontaneous traveler, offering activities for an unexpectedly free evening. It is also possible to plan a Funday by style (tourist, with children, culture, or something else entirely), and provides directions to the site chosen.

YooGuide is currently operating in private beta mode. It is possible register via e-mail to join a trial group to test the site. The site will open for general use within a few weeks. Its first destination is New York.

IMGuest: When two businesspeople meet

IMGuest, founded by Yossi Mendelovitch and Assaf Engel, targets businesspeople, rather than the tourists. It is basically a social network for the business traveler who seeks to network when at a hotel to avoid missing business opportunities while on the run.

The user can check in at the hotel and find who else is there. If a possible contact is found, who can expand the user's circle of business friends, it is possible to make contact via the website for a meeting in the lobby. In this way, a work trip can be utilized for business deals on site.

Each IMGuest user has a personal profile, which includes his or her area of business, workplace, education, and fields of interest. It is possible to register via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on August 15, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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