Peek released its mobile app today which will put its thousands of activities at traveler’s fingertips.
The iOS app uses the geo-location capability of your phone to recommend experiences and activities near you. Users can browse activities by category, such as “what to do with the kids” or “off the beaten path,” or look at Peek’s city guides made my local tastemakers. There is also a new personality quiz to help you find activities that are relevant to your interests.
Like Peek’s website, the app is highly visual and makes it easy to book experiences. Each listing comes with logistical information, reviews, pricing, and availability.
The story goes she took a birthday trip to Istanbul and spent weeks researching and planning where to go and what to do, comparing provider options, making calls, and trying to book from afar. She ended up with an exhaustive spreadsheet of information, that was shared around with friends (and friends of friends, and so on) anytime someone went to Turkey.
She saw that there was a high-demand for curated, researched, vetted travel experiences, and set out to build a site where they were not only easy to find, but easy to book.
“What you do on travel holiday is what your memories are based on,” said founder Ruzwana Bashir. “People want to do cool stuff, and this is what will shape your entire experience. We want to be the number one player for experiences and disrupt the market so you don’t even need to buy a guidebook, you just can have this one resource to book and buy, and go have fun.”
Peek has consistently grown since then, adding new travel destinations across the U.S., as well as in London and Paris. The company is backed by an elite group of investors, including Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt, SV Angel, and Khosla Ventures, and seems to have overcome the threat of obsolescence that looms over many travel startups.
Travel is a competitive and challenging sector of the tech world. Large companies like Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Viatour have been around for ages. We are now seeing the next generation of travel startups (Vayable, Mygola, Wander, AnyRoad, Trippy, Gogobot, TripIt, and Schemer), but many struggle to get significant traction.
Some have failed, like Tripl; pivoted away from travel, like GTrot; or been bought-and-quashed, like Wanderfly.
There are a couple reasons for this. It is a space that already has a lot of noise, and building out a two-sided marketplace is challenging, particularly when the merchant end of that marketplace are often small service providers without tech-savvy or a reliable Internet connection.
However mobile has helped break down many of these barriers. On-the-go access to anything makes more sense for travelers than something that requires a computer, and mobile gives a wider range of merchants the ability to get online. It also makes it easier for travelers and merchants alike to update information, and communicate.
Mobile is a smart and necessary move for any travel startup, particularly those that are experience-based (versus hotel or flight booking).
Peek said that only one in five people plan their vacation in advance, and this app is geared for last minute bookers. One screen displays descriptions, pricing, availability, and reviews, and a big “book now” button.