Lifestyle

Peek enters Europe with lofty ambition to become top site for travel adventures

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Image Credit: Peek Facebook

The world is filled with wonderful things to do. The challenge is finding them.

Hot travel startup Peek announced today that it is expanding into Europe. London and Paris are its first international markets, and the company has ambitious plans to continue adding more cities throughout the year.

Peek launched publicly in October 2012 to help travelers figure out what to do. Its mission is to collect the best experiences in a destination and make it easy for travelers to book them. The site features an overview of each destination and a curated selection of tours and activities. Visitors can search for inspiration in the “Perfect Days” category where local tastemakers and community members outline their ideal day in their city. Fashion lovers can look at how well-known designers spend their days in New York City, or where a famous chef chooses to eat on his day off.

“What you do on travel holiday is what your memories are based on,” said founder Ruzwana Bashir in an interview with VentureBeat. “People want to do cool stuff, and this is what will shape your entire experience. We want to be the number one player for experiences and disrupt the market so you don’t even need to buy a guidebook; you just can have this one resource to book and buy, and go have fun.”

A Google study found that 83 percent of leisure travelers plan online for a trip. The travel market is fragmented, and the process of finding and booking things to do remains frustrating. Bashir was inspired to found Peek after organizing a birthday trip to Turkey and creating a massive spreadsheet of information. This spreadsheet became a go-to resource for anyone in her social network visiting Turkey, and she realized the need for a site that provided curation, along with reviews and the ability to actually make bookings.

Travel is a competitive industry and challenging to break into. There are traditional guides like Lonely Planet, big online players like Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Viator, and a slew of startups including GetYourGuide, Vayable, Wander, AnyRoad, Trippy, Gogobot, TripIt, and Schemer that are dedicated to helping people find fun stuff to do. Entrepreneurs in this space often struggle to build out robust two-sided marketplaces and reach a wide audience of travelers. Many have failed, like Tripl; pivoted away from travel, like GTrot; or been bought-and-quashed, like Wanderfly.

Peek is trying to gain a foothold by offering exclusive content and putting a strong focus on user experience and design. It also offers a service to activity providers who want to reach travelers but don’t have functional websites or a way to break through the noise. Peek provides them with a system for secure booking and payments, as well as an audience.

Peek started out in California and Hawaii and has since grown to 15 regions in the U.S., and now London and Paris. Experiences include bungee jumping over the Thames in London and taking a French pastry class in Paris. Expanding internationally is tough, as every new market presents fresh cultural and business challenges. Peek raised a seed round of $1.4 million last year from Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt, SV Angel, and Khosla Ventures to support expansion. The company is based in San Francisco.