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Travel app raises $3 million to plan your trips for you

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer

Despite the rise in sites that are supposed to make booking travel easier (Kayak, Priceline or Expedia), there is still a lot of research that can go into tackling new destinations.

That could be part of the reason why despite half of Americans saying that they receive more than 10 vacation days a year, nearly a quarter still have more than nine vacation days left on the table through the end of 2018, according in a new Priceline Work-Life Balance report.

But one new startup that’s now raised more than $3 million, including the latest $2.5 million round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, hopes to take the planning out of the travel booking process by customizing travel itineraries to your personal tastes.

“The way that we structured this is that you’re actually paying exactly the same [amount] that you would pay if you booked every piece on your own,” Noken co-founder Marc Escapa explained on Yahoo Finance’s live Morning Meeting show. “But on top of it, we’re actually doing the whole curation of the trip — we’re curating the hotels, we’re curating the activity providers, we’re curating everything — while giving you also commentary on the sites… and so for all this service we’re charging $5 per person per day.”

Travel app Noken hopes to cut down on the amount of time travelers spend planning trips by curating the best destinations and hotels for a given customer. Flights, however, aren’t included in the app’s offerings.

Noken, which just relaunched in November, currently offers travel blueprints for Iceland, Portugal and Japan. Travelers can tweak a given itinerary to better match their desires or price points before Noken books and finalizes itineraries that are stored in its app for the actual trip. While the company receives a commission on bookings, Escapa said Noken doesn’t optimize for the higher kickbacks, but rather what its users, who tend to be millennials, are looking for.

Perhaps surprisingly, millennials were twice as likely to say they’d use the services of a travel agent compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, according to a survey by MMGY Global. If Noken can prove effective, it could be a scalable travel agent alternative for those not looking to pay as much for curated travel ideas.

Attracting prospective users to trust its travel recommendations might be an uphill battle, however. According to a Capital One travel survey, almost nine out of 10 travelers place higher importance on recommendations from friends and family over social media and guidebooks.

Zack Guzman is a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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