VIBEAGENT ANNOUNCES NEW HOTEL BOOKING SITE THAT COMBINES USER-GENERATED REVIEWS, META-SEARCH, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
November 15, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel NewsOrlando, FL, Wednesday, November 15, 2007 – Pushing the envelope in online travel, VibeAgent (www.vibeagent.com) announced today at the PhoCusWright Travel Conference the general availability of a free new resource for travelers to save time and money when researching and booking hotel accommodations. VibeAgent is the first travel site that combines user-generated content, meta-search, and social networking to deliver personalized, trustworthy hotel recommendations and booking at the best available rates, all in one convenient place. VibeAgent is addressing an unmet need that helps travelers simplify the hotel research and booking process by providing hotel recommendations based on the reviews of friends, colleagues, and like-minded travelers.
PhoCusWright, the leading travel research firm, estimates that online hotel bookings will total $86.6 billion in 2007 and grow by 20% in 2008. When researching accommodations online, consumers are increasingly turning to travel community sites for objective advice. While these sites provide feedback, their trustworthiness and relevance to the user often falls short. There are few reliable mechanisms in place to keep hotel operators and businesses from posting biased reviews. Feedback is presented in a cumbersome way with minimal information provided about the review writer. Some sites take advertising money from hotels to prioritize their placement in search results, limiting their value for consumers and creating mistrust about their relevance. Lastly, because the source for the best available hotel rates fluctuates so widely, travelers typically need to visit different web sites before booking a hotel room.
VibeAgent improves the hotel research and booking process by being the first site to offer travelers free personalized hotel recommendations, for more than 120,000 hotels, based on the content and connections within a traveler’s social network. VibeAgent then “meta” searches a multitude of travel and hotel web sites in real-time to find all the available room rates for each hotel, so users know they are booking their chosen accommodations at the best available rate. VibeAgent’s features include:
VibeIndex™ – VibeAgent has developed a proprietary algorithm that combines demographics, site behavior, and analysis of a user’s social network to rank hotels based on the likelihood they will appeal to each individual traveler. This “VibeIndex” incorporates how the members and groups in each user’s network have rated and tagged hotels to create personalized recommendations for each search. By mining the content and connections in each user’s social network, VibeAgent provides two people conducting the same hotel search with two different sets of recommendations.
Meta-Search – When a hotel search is conducted on VibeAgent, the site gathers rates and availability in real time from multiple online travel agencies (OTAs) and directly from the hotels’ web sites. In total, VibeAgent provides rates and availability for over 120,000 hotels, making it the fifth-largest collection of bookable hotel inventory in the world. VibeAgent users frequently have access to the best rates available online for each of these hotels.
Hotel Tagging – VibeAgent helps travelers make informed hotel booking decisions via a unique tag-based tool that quickly personalizes a search via three categories: Ambience, Activities, and Recommended For. These categories drive the customization of hotel preferences, such as a hotel with a romantic ambience, a day spa, and gourmet dining for food lovers. Registered users can tag a hotel from any search or hotel page without writing a review, for easy reference later.
Groups & Answers – VibeAgent enables registered users to create custom groups or join groups of like-minded travelers, to exchange stories, tips and recommendations with people that share similar travel interests. VibeAgent features a broad array of groups, ranging from marathon travelers, to Napa Valley wine lovers, to company groups for business travelers. Once users have joined a group, they have access to the group members' reviews and can ask and answer questions in group-only travel forums. Groups can be open or closed for added privacy.
“My Map” - My Map is a customizable dashboard that presents a personalized map of one’s friends, reviews, and groups. Using “My Map,” a traveler can do a quick geo-search of their network to pull up any city in the world and see all the hotels where people in their network have stayed. They can also read reviews, view hotel photos, check room availability, and book a hotel room ─ all without leaving the dashboard.
“My Trips” – The My Trips feature lets travelers keep track of their planned trips while updating their friends, family and colleagues. Conversely, they can also stay informed of their friends’ adventures or planned trips. A status bar gives users a dynamic snapshot of where the friends within their personal network are traveling to at any given time.
“My News” – My News is a personalized news feed of all the activity occurring in one’s travel network. Users are informed whenever their friends, family and colleagues write reviews, plan trips, post questions, or expand their network. VibeAgent also gives users the option to customize what news is displayed in their feed.
“VibeAgent has strived to create a best-of-breed site that provides travelers with trustworthy hotel recommendations, personalized to their individual tastes and preferences, at the best available rates,” stated Adam Healey, VibeAgent’s co-founder and CEO. “VibeAgent users can be confident they’re making the best accommodation choice possible.”
VibeAgent’s formal launch comes on the heels of announcing a round of financing and the appointment of Trip Davis, President and CEO of TRX Inc. (NASD: TRXI), to the company’s Board of Directors. Mr. Davis is recognized as a travel technology industry leader and has received numerous honors and awards, including Business Travel News magazine’s 2007 “Top 25 most influential executives” in the travel industry.
About VibeAgent Inc.
VibeAgent.com is a new online resource for travelers to research and book hotel accommodations. It is the first and only site that combines user-generated hotel reviews, meta-search, and social networking to provide its users with free personalized hotel recommendations and booking at the best available rates. VibeAgent’s unparalleled meta-search engine assembles rates and availability for more than 120,000 hotels worldwide from leading sites and providers such as Priceline, HotelBook, InterContinental Hotels, Holiday Inn, Skoosh, Reserve Travel, Venere, Booking.com, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, TravelWorm, and Travel Intelligence. Founded in 2006, VibeAgent is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. For more information, please visit www.vibeagent.com.
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