UpTake , the travel search engine formerly known as Kango, has raised over $10 million in a second round of financing.
Unlike many content-focused travel sites, which seem to proliferate daily (see TripWolf, IgoUgo, TripSay), UpTake has no illusions about becoming the first place people turn for travel info. It has instead built a strategy almost entirely based around aggregating high-quality content from other sources and pulling in traffic from travel searches executed on major search engines. According to Yen Lee, UpTake’s CEO, around 10 billion of these searches are made every year in the United States.
The company launched to the public in May. Lee, who was previously the general manager of Yahoo Travel, says the growth in unique visitors and page views per visit at UpTake have far exceeded what he experienced at Yahoo. The interesting detail is that only two percent of the site’s traffic originates from direct navigation to UpTake’s main page. The other 98 percent comes from high placement in search results for niche travel queries like “Monterrey things to do,” or “Carmel romantic hotels.”
Lee knows UpTake will never compete for the most frequently searched items like Las Vegas, San Francisco or New York, but says it can succeed by building a huge index of niches (pet friendly hotels, best girls’ nights out, and so on) and become a conduit from a travel query on Google to the rest of your plans. Meanwhile, it’ll have to find a way to outmuscle TripAdvisor, its closest competitor, which seems to show up above UpTake in almost every test search I tried.
But for a start-up five months into its public launch, showing up high on the first page of results sure ain’t bad.