There’s something about the Pacific Northwest that seems to produce intrepid humans. That solo hiker approaching you on some dusty Arizona trail — the first person you’ve seen in days? Chances are she cut her teeth on Mailbox Peak as a teenager. The mysterious bearded fellow you glimpsed lugging his speargun and a freshly-caught amberjack to his driftwood shack on some Oaxacan beach? He almost certainly grew up somewhere between Eugene and Bellingham.
So it’s no surprise that Seattle’s entrepreneurs have created a range of startups helping to change the way we travel. The ideas behind each of the six companies listed below might seem like subtle tweaks to a traveler’s experience, but the benefits for users have huge potential.
FlightSpeak’s app gathers crowdsourced information into a pocket guide for over 400 airports around the world. The app guides you through restaurants, charging stations, family-friendly hangout areas, pet policies, art exhibitions, ground transport and even estimated wait times for security checks.
Traveling tweak: Airports usually aren’t great at communicating the services they offer to travelers. FlightSpeak aims to help travelers make use of an airport’s amenities in the hopes that we’ll stop treating flight — a technological marvel of the modern world — as such a chore. Who knows? We may even begin to enjoy it.
Stay Alfred likes the convenience and the price of an Airbnb, but isn’t too impressed with having to share accommodation with the person who, er, lives there. Based in Spokane, the platform lists centrally located, high-end apartments, condos and lofts in 23 cities across the U.S. and counting.
Traveling tweak: Stay Alfred aims to be “your place in the city” — rather than a room in someone else’s. The company focuses on listing fully-furnished apartments, so guests experience what it’s like to have their own local digs.
Utrip’s platform gathers data related to user preferences, interests, geography and budget, which its AI then uses to craft personalized travel recommendations. Founder Gilad Berenstein came up with the idea after a post-college trip through Europe, where he found himself dissatisfied with the repetitive or outdated recommendations found in travel guides and online “top ten” lists.
Traveling tweak: Using Utrip’s platform, businesses are able to craft itineraries and recommendations personalized to individual travelers. The company says this will boost conversion rates, as well as customer engagement and loyalty.
Yapta stands for “Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant.” They monitor the price of airfares and hotel rooms after they’ve been booked, so when the price drops, Yapta can notify the user. They explain how to call the airline or hotel and re-book at the lower price.
Traveling tweak: The service is designed specifically for businesses who seldom have time to trawl through booking sites or wait for the optimum moment to snag a low price. Since its founding in 2007, the company claims to have found $550 million worth of savings.
Trover is a cross between a guide book and a gallery, helping travelers plan their trips based on geotagged photos posted by fellow users. Conversations take place in the comment sections, and users can add shots to saved lists for future perusal. Founded in 2011, Trover was acquired by Expedia in 2016.
Traveling tweak: The internet is full of lists and recommendations, and it’s often unclear whether a writer has actually been to the place they’re talking about. Trover’s platform strips away the verbosity of Lonely Planet-like “best of” lists and lets users plan their trips around little more than an image, a short caption and a geotag.
Spotted Places allows users to follow travelers they like and trust, including family, friends, celebrities and people with similar interests. The app features a map function showing where fellow travelers have been, and lets users leave their own reviews and information for those who come after.
Traveling tweak: TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews are a brilliant exhibition of all that is weird and wonderful about humanity, but they still must be taken with a grain of salt to glean any actionable intelligence. You don’t know who these people are, after all. The Spotted Places interface allows travelers to see where their trusted reviewers have been and plan accordingly.