MEET & GREET: Jason Will, Cofounder, Zipkick

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In this week’s Meet & Greet, we have a chat with Jason Will, co-founder of exciting new California-based travel startup Zipkick to find out more about what Jason describes as a “massive game-changer for online travel“.

Tell us what Zipkick does…

Zipkick is a personal travel concierge in your pocket that makes mobile travel search simple and convenient by only showing results that matter to you. We believe it’s time for a new experience, which is personalized, clean, simple and fast.

Personalized: Only see results that match your preferences

Clean: No ads, checkboxes, or scroll bars to sort through

Simple: Just type in when and where you are going

Fast: Three screen process, start to finish.

As you continue to use Zipkick, the results become even more personalized, saving you time and ensuring the most relevant options are shown without any clutter.

The name Zipkick doesn’t seem to describe what the solution does, but it is certainly memorable. What are its origins?

Startup names are meant to be simply that, memorable. We came up with 5 different names and put them on Mechanical Turk for the public to vote and Zipkick was the unanimous favorite.

The online travel industry has been very slow to adopt Amazon-style personalisation. I’ve booked dozens of hotels on Agoda but every time I go there it’s like I’m a first-time visitor and I still have to scroll through loads of results that are not relevant to me. Why do you think this is?

The online travel industry has never experienced personalization. Due to check boxes, scroll bars and sorting features in conjunction with sponsored results across online travel agencies (OTA’s), un biased personalization cannot exist. Keep in mind that the most valuable place for search results are on page one, which means sponsored listings are big money for these companies on top of every page displaying advertisements. Another concept that isn’t widely discussed is static vs. dynamic preferences. Check boxes on the current OTA sites are static, which means their system interprets the response as yes or no. Additionally, they cannot tell how checking amenity boxes are relatively more or less important than sorting by price. The introduction of ranked preferences is dynamic and by understanding the relative importance and all of the users unique travel behaviors (loyalty programs, purchase history, etc) then personalization can take shape.

As well as having a B2C site, you also plan to license your algorithm to other businesses. Which types of travel business do you think could benefit from using it? Hotels, hotel groups, OTAs, tour operators….?

The algorithm is incredibly unique in the sense that it can be placed inside of all those environments. OTA’s stand to see the most immediate impact since their results can be more effectively sorted through our algorithm and lead to increased conversions.

You recently appointed my fellow Bangkokian, Twitter legend Scott Eddy, as your global brand ambassador. Why did you pick Scott, and what does he bring to Zipkick?

Scott knows how to build relationships and is notorious for his insanely good content. Our team values culture and are focused on engaging with travelers around the world. The first step has been building a community of #ZipkickBloggers and Scott has spearheaded that effort. People know when they reach out to us on social media or via email that we respond immediately.

Finally, how do you see the future of Zipkick – as an under-the-radar provider of algorithms for other business, as a moderately successful B2C OTA, or as a massive game-changer for online travel?

The company plans to be a massive game-changer for online travel. Our initial version focuses on hotels, but you’ll see plenty of more activity very soon. Travelers are eager for a better mobile search and booking experience.

Zipkick is currently in beta launch phase. To get an invitation, visit http://www.zipkick.com/

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About Author

Tim is one of representasia’s co-founders and the company’s CMO. He has been in the tourism industry since 1992 and has worked in Paris, London, Saigon & Bangkok. He has a strong background in operations, technology, sales & marketing. Representasia is his second business venture, following his founding of a successful Vietnam DMC in 2009.

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