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New Hotel Website Startup – VibeAgent.com

I was approached by Adam Healey, the co-founder of VibeAgent.com to be one of the beta testers for his new start-up. VibeAgent is supposed to be a combination of TripAdvisor + Kayak + eHarmony on top of a mini-Facebook. So of course I got a little interested, and asked to do a quick interview with Adam to find out more, since there are already so many hotel websites on the market. I was interested how his new venture is different and how he intends to get the consumers attention. The site is not live yet, but Adam send me a few screenshots that will give “Tourism Internet Marketing Blog” readers a sneak preview. Below you can read what he had to say.

INTERVIEW WITH VIBE AGENT

TIM (Tourism Internet Marketing): WHAT IS VIBEAGENT, AND WHEN ARE YOU GOING LIVE?

In a nutshell, VibeAgent is a combination between Tripadvisor, Kayak, and eHarmony on top of a mini Facebook. VibeAgent is a Travel 2.0 site, focused on providing people with personalized hotel recommendation they can trust, at prices they can’t beat. We are an international site, which at launch in April or May will have 90,000 hotels in its database – more than Expedia.

TIM: WHAT IS YOUR VALUE PROPOSTION TO CONSUMERS AND HOTELIERS?

We provide our users with personalized hotel recommendations written by people who

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share similar tastes and preferences. We’ve created a simple experiential search tool to help users describe their ideal hotel experience, and a neat little social search algorithm that prioritizes and matches the reviews of community members with similar preferences and whose reviews have been deemed trustworthy.

Once the user has found the perfect hotel, VibeAgent finds the best available rate by comparing quotes from many different transaction partners, both hotels and other travel e-commerce sites.

We also provide users with a simple user interface and a personalized social networking platform so they can invite their friends and colleagues to share reviews and recommendations. Users can even create and join groups of similar-minded people to share experiences and receive good advice, or read reviews written by experts on the target destination.

TIM: HOW IS VIBEAGENT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER HOTEL E-COMMERCE WEBSITES?

Unlike most other e-commerce travel sites, we don’t take any money from hotel chains to influence the order of our search results. Our search results are completely organic (yum!), as they are based entirely on the reviews of travelers that share the user’s tastes and preferences. Also, unlike all other hotel review sites, we actually rank hotels based on our algorithm, so the user has an easy way to evaluate the reviews on the site.

VibeAgent’s success is based on its community members contributing their honest opinions and experiences so everyone can benefit. We hope that everyone will see the value in becoming an active member of our community and take some time to share their experiences with their friends and colleagues on our site. We believe we’ve created a better way to research, purchase, and share hotel experiences.

VibeAgent provides its service free to its users. It makes money by taking a commission from hotels and e-commerce sites when a customer books a hotel room after researching it on VibeAgent.

TIM: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE BEFORE AND HOW DID YOU (AND YOUR PARTNER) COME UP WITH THE IDEA)?

The co-founders of VibeAgent are myself, Adam Healey and Charles Seilheimer.

Prior to founding VibeAgent with Charles in 2006, I was the founder and CEO of Samba Digital Media, a 40 employee e-services consulting firm based in Prague. At Samba I oversaw the company’s multinational expansion, raised $2.4 million of venture capital, and helped the firm achieve 235% annual revenue growth over three years. Prior, I worked in management consulting at Monitor Group, corporate venture capital at Landmark Communications, and fixed income trading at Salomon Smith Barney. I received both my BS and MBA from the University of Virginia.

My business partner Charles has also worked in investment banking at Banc of America Securities, private equity for The Clipper Group and several entrepreneurial ventures. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics at Middlebury College and his MBA at the University of Virginia.

TIM: Thanks Adam, and good luck.

If any of you want to also become a beta tester of VibeAgent.com, sign-up on the site.

The search results are ordered based on the likelihood they will appeal to the user according to VibeAgent’s proprietary matching algorithm. The lowest available room rate is shown based on a meta-search of all partners’ prices. Clicking on the hotel provides the user with detailed hotel and user-generated content and reviews.

This is each registered user’s personal dashboard. Here the user can keep track of their own stats, reviews, friends, groups, mail, bookmarks, and forum postings, and quickly link to all other parts of the site, including their friends’ reviews and hotel recommendations.

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