Gogobot turns to mobile in order to conquer the travel service market


By Kathleen De Vere Comment

Social travel service Gogobot wants to be the most popular travel planning service in the world, a goal its hoping to accomplish with a well-designed, mobile-first user experience.

Part social network, part travel planning tool, and part hotel booking service, Gogobot launched 18 months ago as a website, but according to CEO and co-founder Travis Katz, the service’s growth rate went “through the roof” after it launched an iOS app in October 2011. The company started the year with 600,000 registered users, and now has more than 2.0 million. According to our traffic tracking service AppData, Gogobot currently has more than 1 million monthly active users and 88,500 daily active users logging in through Facebook Connect alone.

We’re just getting started in mobile space,” says Katz, who tells us the company is currently working on Android and tablet versions of its app. “Our service is built for the social web and mobile, which is one of the most disruptive forces to come around in a long time. We have very big aspirations.”

According to Katz, Gogobot’s ultimate goal is to unseat Trip Advisor from its position as the reigning travel advice service. He says that while Trip Advisor does an excellent job, its service is built around how people were using the internet 10 years ago, not how they want to use it today.  In order to accomplish its goal, Gogobot is emphasizing the strength of its mobile experience.

“We’re doubling down on the mobile space,” says Katz. “We see that as the future so we’re investing very heavily in mobile to be the centerpiece of our experience.”

Gogobot’s iOS app doesn’t just allow its users to trade reviews and book hotels — it covers every aspect of a trip from researching destinations before departure to sharing photos afterwards. The app empathizes social connections, allowing users to see what both their Facebook friends and interesting travelers are up to, through an asymmetrical Twitter-influenced following feature. Katz tells us that many of Gogobot’s early adopters were professional travel writers, some of whom have been able to rack up thousands of followers through the service. Gogobot also filters its results by a user’s social connections, prioritizing information provided by someone a user already knows or follows.

“On Yelp when you’re looking at a restaurant you might read or scan 20 reviews to get a feel, but if you had one friend whose taste you trust who’s been there and says this place is awesome you probably don’t need to read the other 19,” explains Katz. “Our goal is to find you the most relevant hotels and restaurant, and then help you find the most relevant commentary.”

Currently Gogobot makes money every time a user makes a hotel booking through the app. While the company isn’t revealing any earnings information yet, Gogobot is backed by $19 million in Series A and B funding from the likes of Battery Ventures and Redpoint Ventures — giving it a substantial war chest to work from as it establishes its market foothold.

“We don’t have to worry about over monetizing and stuffing [the service] full of ads,” explains Katz. “We are focused on the user experience. We have a lot of people moving over from other services.”