July 31, 2009
Another example how the online travel industry is growing, despite the current economic downturn, is a company called “Yapta. Yapta offers a website where people can go and compare air fare and get good flights for bargain prices. Any time, when the economy is not doing too well, people will always be looking for a bargain where ever they can get one.
Using Yapta is very easy. All you need to do is to sign up by clicking on the join link and type in your email address, first and last name, a password, and confirmation of your password. You should be getting a confirmation email as soon as you sign up, but it does take about five or ten minutes for the confirmation email to come. Upon receiving the confirmation email, simply click on the link they give you and you are in. It’s that easy and best of all signing up to Yapta is free.
Once you have signed in and logged into Yapta, working with the service is also easy. Once you sign into your Yapta account, you will see three different options, which are tracking airfare price drops, tracking hotel rates and availability, and tracking for airfare vouchers and credits. All three of these services can be a big help to the bargain hunter.
When you are looking for airfare price drops on Yapta, you will see several fields which prompt you to type in the city of departure and destination, and then you have the option to choose a round trip or one-way fares. You will also see a drop menu that will show a calendar where you need to choose departure date and for round trip flights a calendar for the date of your return flight. One problem that Yapta does have is that it can load slowly on certain internet services and sometimes the server may not respond. This might turn away the more impatient users. However, when the site does work, after you have typed in all the above information, you will see a whole list with different airlines and their airfares. The site will even tell you whether the flight is a nonstop or has stops. Supposed you want to fly to Tbilisi from Chicago O’Hare. At your departure just type in Chicago and you will have three choices, all airports, Chicago Midway, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. You will notice that most of the flights are operated by United Airlines. You will see a hyperlink that tells you how many stops you have. The only problem is that the prices are quite unrealistic. It is hard to find a price on Yapta for this flight that is under $3000. That is awfully high when tickets for this same flight are offered by various travel agents for under $1600.
The next option on the My Trips page of Yapta is dedicated to tracking hotels and rates. This feature also helps you see if there is a vacancy at a particular hotel. To use this feature, all you need to do is to click on the Track Hotels button. You will find several fields to fill out. You can also filter out other hotels, but this can sometimes yield no results. For example if you would like to stay at Hotel Vere Palace in Tbilisi, you will not be given any information on that particular hotel. However, if you do not filter any hotel, all the hotels in Tbilisi will appear. You will first see the high-luxury hotels from Marriot, Radison, and Hilton, and then all the others. The problem here again is that it will not really find the best prices and for avid travelers, this feature may also not provide that much of a service.
The third option in My Trips is designed to find refunds from flight vouchers or other credits. For example you are flying Lufthansa to Munich with flight 435 and you want to see if you can get some credits from this flight. This feature is very user unfriendly and you keep getting error messages unless you type in the fields correctly, which the site does not explain.
Yapta is based in Seattle, Washington and the company’s investors include First Round Capital and Voyager Capital, which invested $700,000 in seed funding and $2.3 milliion in series A funding.
Voyager Capital is a vc firm that mainly invests in companies who are in the IT, digital media, wireless, and software industries. Furthermore, Voyager mainly invests in the geographical location around Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and northern California areas. Voyager’s strategy is a “go to market” strategy, which is a strategy that helps new companies aggressively take their product or service to the market and helps the entrepreneurs develop an effective marketing strategy, crucial for new startups to execute in order to be successful. Some other companies in Voyager’s portfolio include Placecast, Amplitude, AboutUs, Capital Stream, Elemental, GoAhead, and others.
First Round Capital is a vc firm that mainly invests in early stage startup companies who are in the tech industry. First Round Capital especially looks for entrepreneurs who have an innovative product that could disrupt the tech industry. The vc firm is managed by Joshua Kopelman, Chris Fralic, Rob Hayes, and Howard Morgan. First Round mainly invests in seed and early stage funding for its portfolio companies. Other companies in First Round’s portfolio include 33Across, Aggregate Knowledge, AppNexus, Aster Data Systems, BazaarVoice, BiggerBoat, and others.
Yapta does have some heavy competition. Some of Yapta’s major competitors that could pose serious competition for the company include Kayak, CheapFlights, TripHup, and others. The two biggest competitors, however, are Kayak and CheapFlights.
Kayak is a website that provides a travel search engine and offers a service similar to what Yapta provides. Some of the services that Kayak offers is finding and comparing airfares, hotels, car rentals, etc. Kayak is based in Norwalk, Connecticut and employs 75 people.
CheapFlights actually pioneered the online travel industry by offering price comparison of airfare. CheapFlights partners up with many airlines and Priceline to help find the bargains for you. CheapFlights is based in London, United Kingdom and was founded in March, 1996.
For more information about Yapta, click here.