TravelDNA seed planted on rocky honeymoon

Jan 09, 2012
Vacationers swim and sunbathe at a private beach near Santa Margherita Ligure, southern Genova, Italy, in 2011. Anishiya Taneja and her husband turned a rocky honeymoon in Italy into inspiration for a free online travel service that matches people with ideal vacation itineraries.

Anishiya Taneja and her husband turned a rocky honeymoon into inspiration for a free online travel service that matches people with ideal vacation itineraries.

TravelDNA has been a viral hit during an invitation-only test period and has already caught the eyes of Google, and Amazon.

"We are trying to be the Amazon.com for travel; building the perfect itinerary for every user in less than a second," Taneja said while showing TravelDNA to reporters gathered for the .

She described the service as a computerized version of "a travel agent who knew you perfectly; had expertise of anywhere in the world; was open 24-seven and was free."

TravelDNA uses algorithms and machine learning to navigate the oceans of data about flights, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and more from a cornucopia of partners such as Expedia, and Lonely Planet, Michelin, and Frommer's guides.

"Because we do this mathematically, we can endlessly match people to places and objects to find the best results," Taneja said.

"No human could put that level of effort into it," she continued. "Essentially, we are saying who are you, what do you like and what do you want?"

TravelDNA will cover 20 destination cities when the service opens to the public in March, and will have every city in the world by the end of the year, according to Taneja, the startup's founder and chief executive.

TravelDNA planned to make money by getting paid for customers referred to websites where people book flights, hotel stays or other travel arrangements.

The service will also get revenue from advertisements at the website and from deals to let travel planners know of bargains being promoted by daily-deal operations.

TravelDNA is working on a "wallet" service that would charge users to keep track of loyalty awards for flights or hotels and then build intineraries based on trips or stays they could get using points accrued.

TravelDNA is looking to partner with tour guides, event promoters, vacation home managers and even home room-letting sites such as AirBnB to add their offerings to itinerary options.

"My husband and I went on a honeymoon to Italy," Taneja said when asked what led to the company's birth.

"I was completely frustrated and we realized that every single traveler has a different DNA and their idea of a vacation is different," she continued.

"Lots of spouses and travel partners are like that; opposites attract. We thought we could solve marital and friend discord if we surface the likes they share and use those to make a great vacation."

TravelDNA consists of seven people working out of an office in downtown San Francisco. Its advisory board includes an executive from the team at California Internet giant .

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