Kango to offer a combination of semantic and social search technology

Published: 03 Jan 2008

Kango, founded by Yen Lee, former general manager of Yahoo! Travel, aggregates and organises the myriad of the Internet's travel community and review sites into one place.

Tod Francis, Managing Director with Shasta Ventures, said, "Kango offers a unique combination of semantic and social search technology that is complementary to the travel industry. It will help booking sites get more qualified leads, travel communities and publishers to get more traffic, and advertisers to target based on experience, rather than price. Google organises the universe of travel information for everyone; Kango will organise the universe of travel information for you."

Kango addresses the problem of how travel research is a labor intensive, hit-or-miss exercise. The company referred to a 2006 survey commissioned by MSN and conducted by Harris Interactive, as per which approximately three-quarters of US adult respondents who have ever taken a vacation say they visit three or more websites when researching and/or booking their vacation plans.

"The fact that three out of four vacationers spread their online research across multiple websites -- with some visiting 10 or more -- points to the huge timesaving benefits that a truly full-featured online travel planning site can deliver," said Jim Quilty, Vice President of travel and tourism at Harris Interactive.

As a travel review aggregator, Kango has aggregated and analysed more than 20 million traveler opinions from more than 1,000 sites across the web. The service uses natural language analysis and travel-specific term mapping to deliver reliable, relevant recommendations based on consumers' exact requirements and preferences.

Paul Keung, search, ecommerce and travel analyst for CIBC World Markets said, "Kango is a natural evolution for online travel because travelers are starved for better search and discovery tools and for comprehensive, trustworthy and consistent information and recommendations. When travel moved online, consumers found it more efficient to book chain hotels and flights on travel agencies like Expedia. Then community and review sites like TripAdvisor made it possible for consumers to add and browse hotel reviews. Kango enables consumers to search hotel, activity, and destination reviews from all over the web so consumers can decide what to book."

Lee said Kango is committed to being a comprehensive search application that delivers the head and the tail of travel from five star hotels to non-commercial results like beaches and parks.

"We want to help you find the right trip so you can make the most of your precious vacation time," said Lee.

Initial beta users will be able to use Kango to search for romantic or family-friendly lodging and things to do in California and Hawaii. Results are based on tags and their weightings that have been extracted from the aggregated travel opinions ( e.g. based on 86 opinions from 7 sites, the Spindrift Inn has a relevancy score of 84% for romantic getaways) and a consumer-guided filtering process to deliver fewer, more relevant results. All Kango search results are organised by their relevancy and are not altered based on paid advertisers or sponsored results.

Other than Lee, Kango's management team comprises Dr. Huanjin Chen (Kango's search architect, a role he had previously at eBay), Dr. Boris Galitsky (Kango's natural language scientist with more than 70 patents and publications) and Elliott Ng (Vice President of marketing). Previously Ng founded two companies, Loyalty Matrix and Netcentives, where he launched the largest online loyalty programme backed by frequent flyer miles. Ng most recently ran web marketing for Intuit QuickBooks.

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