There are close to 300 travel-related companies in the startup nation. We chose several that are red hot.
By BRIAN BLUM
Israel 21 Newsletter
Israelis love to travel. Whether it’s a post-army trek to South America or a family outing to the Alps, it sometimes seems there are more Israelis beyond the country’s borders than within. So it’s not surprising that travel technology from Israel is red hot right now – both websites and apps.
With close to 300 travel-related companies in the startup nation, it was hard for us to pick our top 6, but we did the heavy lifting and you get to sit back and go with the flow (of tourists) using these very cool products.
Tell us your favorite Israeli travel apps in the comments section below.
Planning an itinerary by swiping through menus in an app or clicking on a website is so 2012. Gooster gooses up the interaction through its free smart chatbot that works within Facebook Messenger. When you fire it up, Gooster asks you where you’re traveling and whether you want to learn more about cool cafés, tourist sites or the latest in-places to party. Gooster responds accordingly.
Gooster is location-specific and has a database of 50,000 tips and recommendations “from the useful to the off-the-beaten track,” CEO Ardon Wesley tells ISRAEL21c. Gooster is available now for Tel Aviv, Amsterdam and Berlin with four more cities coming in the next six months.
If Bitemojo is Waze for foodies, then Sidekix is Waze for walkers. When you want to get from point A to point B in your car, you usually want the fastest route. Not when you’re walking – then you may prefer the most scenic itinerary, one that passes by hip shopping, food, culture, nightlife and more. Enter your destination and the Sidekix app gives you a choice of walks. Users can also share their routes so others can follow in their footsteps.
Sidekix chief marketing officer Jenny Drezin told ISRAEL21c that locals are using Sidekix as “a tool for urban discovery.” Available in hundreds of cities, London, Paris and New York City have the largest user base, with Tel Aviv, Berlin and Los Angeles coming up strong. During the Tel Aviv “White Night” celebration, Sidekix highlighted the evening’s best parties and outdoor concerts.
EatWith is like Airbnb for meals. You use the app or website to book a place at a dinner party cooked by local chefs in their homes. It’s a whole lot more social than eating alone in a restaurant. There’s a Tinder aspect to EatWith: Hungry travelers contact a host, but the host chooses the guest based on his or her EatWith profile.
Prices range from $25-$50 per person. EatWith started in Tel Aviv but has expanded to 200 cities across Europe and the US with 650 participating hosts. EatWith is not just for travelers; locals are discovering EatWith as they look for a unique outing or an opportunity to meet their neighbors. EatWith says 11,000 diners have been hosted in 50 countries so far.
If you’ve ever been out hiking or biking and arrived at a junction where you weren’t sure which way to turn, you’ve probably wished there were a Waze for the great outdoors. That’s Israeli app Trailze’s mission.
Trailze combines the power of GPS mapping with what the company calls “the world’s largest database of trails, locations and outdoor information,” created automatically in part by the 120,000 people who have downloaded the app (another way Trailze is like Waze). Choose the level of difficulty you’re seeking and Trailze will pick a route for you.
Another Waze-y feature allows users to report events along the way – whether that’s a mudslide or an undiscovered swimming hole. There are 5,000 trails currently on Trailze, most in Israel, with a few hundred more available in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Trailze users have walked or biked a million miles.
Sometimes it’s not walking you want but a little Disney fun. But with so many theme parks around the world, how do you know which one to choose? And once you get there, which rides are the most appropriate for your family? Which have the shortest lines? Israeli website ThemeGo gives you the lowdown through user-generated reviews and rankings.
Yes, you could get the same on TripAdvisor, but ThemeGo is faster and more targeted. There are sections for attractions, events, restaurants and hotels. Not surprisingly, Disney parks hold six of the top slots in the ThemeGo top 10. You can bookmark attractions to create your own mobile route using Google Maps. Founder Yariv Padva built ThemeGo from his personal passion. “I’m a huge theme park fan and have visited more than 30 theme parks around the world,” he says.
Guiderr is one of two Israeli startups on our list that promises to plan a custom trip for its users. Guiderr’s niche is families. The company uses its network of travel agents and tour guides to piece together a personalized trip for families that even includes meetings with local families.
Start by picking an itinerary for your chosen destination (Israel, New York and Japan are currently on offer), then modify it according to your dates and specific needs. Each itinerary lists the guide who’s developed the plan and a chat button that encourages interested travelers to ask questions before booking. For tour guides, Guiderr has built its own online platform on which tour guides can manage their business, from query to reservation. •