Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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Removing friction from the travel market...

So this post fits more under the "Redeye" category than "VC" category.  However, I recently came across two web-based travel services that I wanted to share.  Both of these services do a great job at removing friction from the travel marketplace...

The first is a company called BoardFirst.com.  They do one simple thing and do it well.  Namely, they guarantee you an "A group" boarding pass for Southwest Airlines.  If you've ever flown Southwest, you know that they don't have assigned seats.  Instead, they board passengers by groups based on when they printed their boarding pass.  This result has been that most sophisticated travellers now wait at their computer exactly 24 hours before their flight to beat the crowd for an "A group" boarding pass.  With BoardFirst, you simply give them your flight information, and they will take care of this for you for a small charge.  The difference between an aisle seat on an emergency exit row and a middle seat in the back of the plane is well worth the $5 charge.

The other service just launched from beta today and is from Yapta.com.   As someone who books travel months in advance, its as if this service was made for me!   I never realized it, but most major airlines will give you a refund if they reduce the price after you have bought a ticket.  So if the price on your ticket drops by $372, you are entitled to a voucher for $372 for a future trip.  So Yapta helps you by tracking fares (both before and) after you buy a ticket.  For example, I'm writing this post from a hotel room in Vegas on my way to San Diego for the WSJ D Conference.  And by using Yapta, I was able to learn that the fare for my ticket changed 19 times during a 13 day period.  And because they lowered the price after I booked my ticket, I was entitled to receive a voucher from US Airways for $197.60-- effectively reducing my fare by 30%.  It will be interesting to see how the airlines respond.  At first I thought the airlines would hate this, but then I realized that if it (a) gave people the confidence to book a seat early, and (b) increased repeat purchases through the use of vouchers, it could be a net positive for the airline industry.  There is some good coverage of Yapta in today's Wall Street Journal and Techcrunch.

Yapta_4  


I love how the web is removing friction and increasing our productivity in the travel space. 

Comments

Chris

Except that you can only get a refund if you bought a refundable ticket, and since most discounted coach fares aren't you really have no real entitlement to a refund.

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Nice! Another site I love is Farecast.

I'm the Director of Marketing for a company called Zonder. We're removing any and all friction out of the vacation rentals market - would love your feedback if you get a chance to visit the site sometime.

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Besides Boardfirst, checkinsooner.com does 24 hour checkins on multiple airlines (including southwest) and seat polling on assigned seating carriers.

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