Information on places to travel and where to stay has been made extremely accessible thanks to the internet. There are sites reviewing hotels, users uploading their experiences on blogs, and constant advertising of cheaper room rates. Nevertheless, in Korea many travel patterns have stayed the same and most tend to stay at places recommended by travel agencies. A Silicon Valley based startup named Simplehoney wants to help travelers in Korea and Japan find places that actually match their needs and desires.
Simplehoney was founded in early 2011 by entrepreneur Joyce Kim and Eric Nakagawa. Kim previously founded the popular international video site Soompi which was acquired by Enswers, and Nakagawa founded the hit site, “icanhascheezburger”. The pair launched an alpha version of the site in May 2012 and aim to provide travelers with a more personal and better experience.
“Travel online is shifting away from social towards personal. Because of increased social sharing of travel plans, we are learning a great deal about places our friends and families have travelled. But, travelers are also discovering that we each have our own unique travel personality. Just because you are Facebook friends with someone, it does not mean you travel the same way they do.”
The site is based around a mini-quiz and an algorithm is used to determine the best hotels travelers at their planned destination.
Currently the site offers four destinations in the US — Hawaii, San Francisco, Napa and Santa Monica – and will be launching in New York, Boston, Miami, Seattle, and Los Angeles in the next week.
Co-founder Kim explains that the Hawaii section of the site was selected to be localized in Korean first after noticing that many Korean tourists in the area were always at the same hotels due to booking through travel agents.
“The Korean travelers I spoke with all wanted a more unique experience for their vacation. Our Hawaii quiz is our way of helping Korean travelers have a vacation experience that is unique and special to them.”
For now, the company says it will focus its localization efforts on Korea and Japan to help travelers from Korea as they increasingly seek out new and unique destinations and trips.
“Simplehoney will open up new possibilities for Korean tourists by helping them find the best places to stay based off their personality.”
The site is offering user accounts for free during its initial launch, usually worth $100. While such a price tag may seem expensive to some, Kim says that the satisfaction travelers get from the benefits offered will be worth it.
“Once our booking platform is fully launched, members will receive personalized rates and benefits from hotels based off their unique travel style and preferences. On average, these benefits will be worth more than $100 value within a trip or two.”
Simplehoney shows users great places to stay, even if the hotels can’t be booked online and is dedicated to bringing users the best hotels that match their preferences.
“The next era of the web is not just about discovery – it will be about curation. It will be about finding the right answer for you, not just finding any answer.”