Reno startup creates an app for all of your travel planning needs
The best startups fill a need — often from the entrepreneur’s own frustrations.
When Bob Larmore and several friends took a trip to Europe a couple years ago, he spent a lot of time researching in multiple websites and then took multiple spreadsheets along that listed their itinerary and reservations information. He enjoys planning travel adventures, but keeping track of those plans is another thing entirely.
“There were lots of travel apps (at the time),” said Larmore, a computer science and MBA graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno, and co-founder of TierItUp Inc., which creates social lifestyle applications. “None with everything all in one place. None that go along with you.”
Larmore and his TierItUp partner, Raymond Martinez, a software engineer, set out to apply their experience to create the ultimate travel-planning app.
The result is the TripSee app, which streamlines travel planning and keeps everything — flights, hotels, itineraries, maps, etc. — all in one cloud-based mobile app that’s easily accessed via iPhones, iPads, and Androids while traveling.
“So wherever you go on a trip, it’s all in one spot,” Larmore said.
Since launching TripSee a month ago, the travel app has been downloaded 2,500 times.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from the community,” Martinez said. “We get a message almost every day suggesting a new feature or (pointing out) bugs” in the app.
With user input, they recently released the second version of TripSee and expect to release updates every month or so.
To keep information up to the moment, TripSee sources its reviews, descriptions and photographs from such data-stars as Yelp, Wiki, Google, and many others.
“If something’s closed on Google, it will be closed on (TripSee) too,” Larmore said.
“Google uses pretty much all the sources we do.”
Once the app user selects a city to visit, TripSee shows details such as sites to see, accommodations, public transit, dining, and entertainment plus corresponding information about hours of operation, costs and contact information. TripSee can zoom into neighborhoods to show multiple venues in close proximity to each other or zoom out to show a large region to plan a multi-city trip.
Sites, lodging and transportation can be sorted and stored by dates, and moved around with ease as plans shift.
TripSee also allows users to plan trips together, even if they’re half a world apart.
“Multiple people can plan a trip together and share plans through Facebook and email,” Larmore said. “We’re moving along trying to make it more social.”
In the continuing evolution of TripSee, Martinez and Larmore have two big goals they’re working on: making TripSee predictive, and making it profitable while keeping it a free app.
The most promising way to monetize the app, they said, is to link to sites that take reservations, or to offer bookings directly from TripSee.
When someone books a hotel, flight, tour, reservation, or similar travel expense from TripSee, the app company receives a kickback from the venue.
Certain companies “give a pretty good kick from actual bookings,” Martinez said.
What the app creators do not want to do is sell ads on the app, especially pop up ads that tend to spoil the enjoyment of travel planning.
“We’re trying to be less intrusive,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to avoid interrupting their experience.”
Larmore and Martinez are also working on making the TripSee app more predictive of where users want to visit and what they want to see.
When someone plans a trip to, say, New York with a lot of museum stops, the program will recommend museums when the user plans a trip to Paris or Rome. If museums aren’t your thing, TripSee could recommend nightclubs, fine dining, concerts, beaches, historical sites, ski resorts, hiking trails, children’s parks or whatever type of venue the user demonstrates an interest in.
In just over a month since its launch, TripSee is showing promise for its creators, entrepreneurs who have developed two other startups in the past five years.
Their previous experience includes a group-buying program similar to Groupon that they developed for the Reno area. It was successful until Groupon began operating in the region. They also developed a loyalty program that died when the company it was developed for was bought out.
They’ve taken their experience and passion and poured it into TripSee.
“Our passion is technology,” Larmore said. “That’s our skill set: finding emerging technology and leverage as much technology as we can.”
And an even greater passion went into the creation of TripSee.
“We’re more passionate about travel,” Martinez said.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.