UpTake is a travel site that offers users options to help them plan themed trips such as kid- or pet-friendly trips, girl getaways and romantic escapes. The site caters to the millions of people who have yet to decide what type of holiday they want – where to go, what to do, where to stay, what to see. (I must admit, I tend not to be that kind of a traveler … I decide on things and THEN start researching.)
UpTake offers travelers choices to help them make informed decisions about their travel plans. The company’s recommendations are not influenced by their advertisers; rather, the site links users directly to the booking site the users choose.
What sets this company apart from competitors like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and TripAdvisor is that they have indexed 20 million reviews across hundreds of sites to come up with the best solution for a travel query. The results the site offers are specific to the query and to the words used in the search. For example, for the exact same location, words like ‘kids’, ‘kitchenette’ and ‘babysitter’, will bring up very different hotel results than words like ‘fun’ and ‘women’. In short, the service is a semantic search engine based only on travel. UpTake has also incorporated Google Maps into their site.
UpTake was established in September 2006 as ThreeAll. They were then called Kango and was in stealth mode until December 2007, when they received their Series A round of financing of $3.95 million from Shasta Ventures. The company was previously backed by NG Venture’s Elliot Ng, who now serves as VP of marketing.
UpTake was founded by Yen Lee and Gene McKenna and is based in Palo Alto, California. As reported on TechCrunch. In May 2008 they came out of private beta as UpTake. The team includes Huanjin Chen, formerly Ebay’s search architect, and Boris Galitsky, a natural language processing guru who previously worked for the British government.
With approximately $87 billion in travel booked online, there is an endless stream of new companies founded to tap into the market. But like many other startups, the UpTake site itself needs some work – some of the links don’t work, some reviews don’t open. Even some of the search results I saw are of questionable accuracy / value. For example, I did a query on “Romantic Getaway” in New York, to which, it returned the Westin on Time Square as the second hotel, after Le Parker Meridien. I cannot imagine considering a Westin as a romantic getaway, but that may just be me!
This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008