Business

Georama reimagines travel with interactive maps

Lots of travel sites are vying for your attention. Georama hopes to grab you by simplifying the process of planning, booking, and sharing your travel plans.

The site uses a map of the world as its user interface, and users click on pushpin icons to drill down on a planned trip or a location that they want to visit. The company says that anybody who has ever had to book a complex trip with multiple legs will care about this application because it simplifies the process.

As you click, Georama pulls up a selection of your friends who live at that location or have traveled there recently. You can browse through their recommendations on what to do as you explore that city. Then you can click through to book your hotel or airfare. Once you’ve traveled, you can share your videos, photos, and other memoirs on the site.

The Chicago-based startup unveiled its platform for travel fans at the DEMO Spring 2012 conference in Santa Clara, California. Advani said the site is in private beta and will be rolling out over the next week, but those who want access now can use the code “DEMO12.”

“We are addressing the frustrations that travelers have today,” said Nihal Advani, founder and chief executive of the company in an interview with VentureBeat. “We let you plan, book, and share a trip in one place.”

Research shows that travelers have to visit an average of 11 sites to do all those things when they are exploring and planning trips, particularly complicated international journeys. Georama helps a traveler from start to finish and creates a full itinerary that is easy to access by clicking on the map interface.

You will be able to book flights, hotels, car rentals, and activities without having to leave the site, Advani said.

You can access your whole list of friends to get advice, but Georama can sort through a lot of data to determine which people will have the best information for you. Users can connect to friends on Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube, and Instagram. Travelers can import data in an automated manner from those applications. The site is in closed beta testing now.

Rivals include myriad travel sites that include advisory apps from TripAdvisor, Gogobot, and Wanderfly. Advani says no single competitor does all of the things that Georama can.

The company was founded in late 2010 and has 20 employees. It raised $250,000 in funding from the founders Advani and Neil Feuling. The inspiration came back in 2007 when Advani noticed how fragmented and inefficient it was to book online travel. He felt that visualization with a map could be the right way to create a user interface for travel planning. He waited a few years until he was ready to execute that vision. Advani previously worked for Microsoft in digital marketing for five years.

“Travel is all about the experience, but today’s online travel process does little to complement that,” Advani said. “Georama was built to be an experience: one that will connect the before, during, and after for a traveler.”

Georama DEMO

Above: Georama founder and CEO Nihal Advani

Georama is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.


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