So I’ve made up my mind. This year, before Christmas, I’m going to do some travelling around Northern Italy. I’ve heard so many times about the wonders of the Christmas markets in and around Bolzano. I’ve always loved travelling with a backpack on my shoulders – except when my girlfriend thinks differently – and so I’ve decided to pack up a few things and set off the following week. Three days holiday to buy those last few presents and relax after an intense and marvellous (in equal measure) year.
I’ve never been to Bolzano before and instead of – as I usually would – turning to my paper guide, I decided to put myself in the hands of this little thing I’ve heard people talking about: the internet. And why would I do that? Because just last week at the BTO, I heard this guy talking about his project – a great project. The guy is called Gilad Berenstein and his project Utrip. While he talked I was overcome by a burning desire to travel: “Utrip was created to give every traveller the ability to see the world in their own, personal and unique way, by bringing together the best of artificial and human intelligence in trip planning.”
I decided to take a look at the site and it was just what I was looking for.
I selected my destination (unfortunately in Italy there aren’t many) and filled in my profile. I then updated my preferences according to what I wanted to do; I swear that the best part of the experience was seeing the activities change when I set my preferences.
Surprise! A personalised itinerary based on my preferences for a 3 day trip. (Very) useful recommendations, budget information, reviews. I decided to visit the About us page to find out more: The Utrip solution begins with a vast database of travel information compiled from numerous sources, both online and off. Our database is curated by local experts from each featured destination.
Utrip was founded in 2011 by Gilad Berenstein, Edan Shahar and Yair Berenstein. Gilad, despite planning his trip to Europe down to every last detail, found himself in an amazing restaurant thanks to a tip from a Roman chef. Finding a place that wasn’t on his itinerary made him (belatedly) realise the importance of local experience in trip planning. Upon his return to Seattle, Utrip started to take shape.
In April 2014, Utrip was financed by $750,000. Investors include Matthew Upchurch (CEO of Virtuoso), Felix Anthony (vice president of Kindle, Amazon) and CB Alliance, venture capitalists from New York.
Over the years, I’ve heard a lot about personalised travel based on the user and whatever else, but never before have I come across something that is so easy on the eye and to use. Indeed, Utrip doesn’t harp on about its innovative product, but rather its design and user experience: for start-ups in particular, these two elements have become fundamental.
I have decided I’m going to try out what Utrip has recommended. I’m setting off Sunday at 10am for my date with the Christmas markets!