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Just-launched social travel startup brings together strangers with shared interests and ages
“Who will be at my vacation?”
That’s the question on the minds of Peter Sullivan and David Los, co-founders of Vacation Relation, a new social travel startup launching in beta Wednesday.
Unlike other social travel sites we’ve covered in the past, like Gogobot and gtrot, Vacation Relation is trying to be more than just another platform for sharing trip experiences with friends and family already connected to the user through their Facebook social graph. In the spirit of the spontaneity one encounters on the best trips, Sullivan and Los created Vacation Relation as a platform for people who want to connect with new people with similar interests in new and exciting places.
“What we do is connect you with the other people who will be there outside your existing social graph,” explains Sullivan. “We then connect you to those people via common interests.”
As an example, the co-founder suggested a surfer might be traveling to San Diego with his girlfriend, who doesn’t surf. The surfer could use Vacation Relation in this case to communicate with similarly-aged fellow surfers, either to discuss the best surf spots or to even plan a meetup. All exchanges take place through the user’s existing network--Facebook, as of now, or LinkedIn (support launching in about a week).
Here is the two-step process for creating a new vacation:
After the trip is created, travelers in the same area can socialize on Vacation Relation via a stream of updates.
The site has even incorporated an intelligent booking system, in tandem with a Booking.com partnership, that helps travelers find the accommodations where people of their age and interests will also be staying.
Launching globally today, the Stockholm, Sweden-based startup has already secured co-branding partnerships with the cities of Innsbruck, Austria; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Athens, Greece; and Oslo, Norway. On their official Web pages, each of these cities will place Vacation Relation-identifiable buttons that read, "See who will be at your Vacation! - powered by Vacation Relation,” and that redirect users to a unique URL on the travel site. The startup has similar partnerships with the country of Singapore as well as spring break planning site Student City.
In spite of Vacation Relation’s seeming promise, the startup is still completely bootstrapped and, naturally enough, actively seeking an angel investor or venture capital firm willing to get behind social travel.
(Co-founder Sullivan previously worked on another startup, Gadingo, which didn’t go too well. Take heed, budding entrepreneurs: “It's impossible to try to work during the day and do a startup. This time around I was 100% focused,” he said.)
Watch this video to learn more about Vacation Relation:
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Gadingo is the internet's first online ticket exchange service. Gadingo providers ticket holders of entertainment events an alternative to the current secondary ticket market. Ethical issues, inflated prices, and fraudulent activity surround the online secondary ticket market, yet it still remains a $10 billion dollar industry and continues to rapidly grow.
Gadingo.com takes a completely alternative approach to any service currently existing. We will revolutionize the industry by providing the first online ticket barter system that guarantees all trades through an innovative escrow system. Gadingo invites users to upload their current existing ticket to ANY entertainment event in the search for an even exchange for another date, event, seat location, artist, or genre. Search results provide the user with any potential trade possibilities based on other users parameters. Once a trade is established each party receives an email confirmation with the proper shipping labels. Simply place your tickets in an envelope, apply the necessary shipping label contained in the email, and drop in your mailbox. Both sets of tickets are then mailed directly to Gadingo to verify the trade terms and forward tickets to the end user. Its that simple.
Imagine this common scenario: You have 4 tickets to see the Cowboys next week, yet your two buddies have backed out of the plan. Now your left with 2 tickets that could possibly go to waste. Why not see an additional Cowboy game in the future. Simply use Gadingo and exchange with a user who might find next weekends game more convenient then next months. Also Gadingo's algorithm's allow for multiple way trades in which it can find a mutually beneficial trade scenario amongst multiple parties and connect them all.
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gtrot makes it easy to share travel plans and experiences with friends. Add your past trips and upcoming plans in seconds, post tips about your favorite destinations and attractions, and connect your Foursquare account to track and share the places you visit on each trip. Easily see where your Facebook friends are going for the holidays, what they recommend doing, who will be nearby, and much more. It's travel made simple and social.
gtrot took top prize at the 2009 Harvard College i3 Innovation Challenge. Rapid campus growth has drawn coverage from NYT & Boston Globe.