June 2, 2009
Although Ruba.com is a more familiar name, as far as travel guide sites go, Gekko can provide stiff competition. Like Ruba.com, Gekko is also in beta testing which the general public can take part in. Basically, how Gekko works is after a user registers with the website, it allows the user to plan his trip in great detail. Gekko requires its users to register with their website before they can use its features. Like Ruba.com, Gekko is also free. The biggest problem with Gekko is that when a user registers for the first time, there is a delay in the confirmation email and unlike Ruba.com, Gekko will not allow a user to log on without answering to the confirmation email. This could pose a problem for business travelers, who are often in a hurry and need to find a good hotel as quick as possible.
Once a user is registered, he can log onto Gekko and start planning his next trip. The first thing the user sees is a prompt for him to change his location in a text bar under the title “Change your current location.” After the user types in the name of the city, he can either click on the change location button or the cancel button. This will change the location of your city. To the right of the site, you can plan trip by setting your destination city, choosing your hotel, choosing the purpose of your trip to be either pleasure, business, or family. Suppose the user would like to go to Sochi, a resort town on the Russian Black Sea coast. When the user types in Sochi, he will see five hotels to choose from, and when the user clicks on any of these hotels, he can read a summary about each of them. Suppose a user has chosen a hotel, for example he likes the Raddison SAS Lazurnaya Hotel. All he needs to do is to select that hotel and then click on the Check Availability button to see if there are rooms available. Along with the hotels, the user can also see how much the hotel costs per night. All prices are listed in British Pounds. The user can then choose dates when he wants to book the hotel and then again he clicks on the Check Availability. Gekko will then automatically check for availability. The main problem with Gekko is it is very slow, and when clicking on a button to check availability, he ends up waiting for quite a while. This can turn off the more impatient users, who like to have the results right away. Ruba.com may not necessarily have information about hotels, but it allows users to add hotels into the various guides. Gekko simply has a site that either does not function well or functions some of the time. Most users go to those sites that are attractive with pictures and other visual graphics, however, the website needs to function efficiently.
The people on Gekko’s management team include Dino Van Es, founder and director of creativity; George Henderson, COO; Stephanie Bouchet, acting CMO; Nick Gianniotis, CTO; Meynald Weerman, VP of Content Development; and Reinier Weerman, VP of Product Development.
Along with being the founder of Gekko, Mr. Van Es also founded Zekko.com which is an online free trade website that allows market people to share stock brokerage and portfolios. The idea of these two companies was born by the fact that like many people, Mr. Van Es got sick and tired of spending all nighters in front of the computer searching for particular information. Creating search engines for first stock market data, then later travel, Mr. Van Es has created a service that can be useful for all internet users.
Mr. Henderson comes to the company with deep experience in the travel domain and working with other startup companies. Before coming to Gekko, Mr. Henderson worked in key management positions at Kuoni, Dreamticket.com, Silverjet, and other startups in the travel industry. Mr. Henderson is an avid traveler and has traveled around the world, including to Cuba, Malaysia, and South Africa.
Ms. Bouchet is the company’s acting CMO and works part time for Gekko. Her experiences include a deep expertise in product marketing and worked at Skype as the company’s marketing director. Ms. Bouchet calls herself a “citizen of the world” and enjoys staying at boutique hotels when she travels abroad.
Nick Gianniotis grew up in Australia in a family of Greek immigrants and is also an avid traveler. Mr. Gianniotis actually joined the Gekko team for that reason. He would be able to travel around the world to gather information for the website.
Like some of the other members of the Gekko team, Meynald Weerman is also an avid traveler and has traveled around the world extensively and loves to stay in some of the most expensive hotels when he travels. He was dissapointed when he joined Gekko that he would not be able to travel as extensively as the type of traveling he is used to.
Gekko was launched in March 25, 2009 and is currently in beta test mode. This site is aimed to find like-minded people who like to travel and allows its users to create their own profiles as well.
Gekko’s investors and their funding are not disclosed to the general public.
For more information about Gekko, click here.