TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking business, today announced the acquisition of a startup that it hopes will help build out its relationship with customers during and after their travels: it has bought ZeTrip and its “automatic” travel journal app Rove, which provides a travelog of your movements based on your GPS coordinates and other data. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but ZeTrip staff have joined TripAdvisor’s offices in Palo Alto and will be working on the company’s mobile products.
For now it looks like Rove is still live and TripAdvisor is not commenting on what the plans are for the future. “We are excited to integrate the ZeTrip team but don’t have any further details to share about plans for the Rove app at this time,” a spokesperson tells me.
Publicly-traded TripAdvisor today operates about 24 different brands (they include JetSetter, La Fourchette, Gate Guru and more, many of which have been picked up by way of acquisition), so that could set a precedent for Rove marching ahead, rather than marching off into the sunset.
While TripAdvisor is not being very specific about how it might use Rove’s technology, the acquisition comes at an interesting time in mobile location-based services. Facebook last week launched a new feature for app users called “Place Tips”, which pushes friends’ tips and insights about locations that you are visiting. It’s a direct competitor to Yelp and Foursquare/Swarm, and comes at the same time that the latter has tapped into passive services itself, picking up users’ location information and pushing suggestions to you without them having to make any effort.
ZeTrip, originally based in San Mateo, had raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2012 from Inspiration Ventures. Originally, it launched as a social travel app that let you look at where other friends were going for “travel inspiration.” Struggling to get user traction for the app, the company pivoted and developed Rove in 2013.
While ZeTrip focused on the social aspect of sharing travel information and pictures, Rove’s default setting is the opposite: you are creating a log first of all for yourself, although if you want to share pictures to other social networks you can do so.
It also took a different approach to the recording of information: while ZeTrip needed buy in from users to actually report information, Rove essentially logs your movements whenever it is activated, meaning you get a log of where you have been and what you have done — as long as your phone is on and the app is activated.
As Anthony pointed out, the location guesses were not always right, but it was helpful for getting down the basics of your movements so that you could edit them to be more accurate.
For its part, TripAdvisor has long been focussed on pre-travel activity — that is, figuring out where you will go, and then planning that trip. The tech that they are picking up here potentially gives it the chance to extend its lifecycle with its customers, giving it a more relevant role during and after the trip. One other thing is clear, though: the company is clearly amassing an arsenal of businesses that are helping it pick up ever more data about how consumers travel, which potentially feed its bigger business in the travel vertical and how it can leverage that for advertising and other marketing services.