TripleHop recommender system personalizes sites

Consumers hop on the Web and surf their favorite travel Web sites. They find great deals and loads of travel information. The problem is they still don’t know quite where they want to go or if the destinations that sound so great are really right for them.
TripleHop Technologies is attempting to solve this problem and increase travel Web sites’ conversion rates by providing an online recommender system. TripleHop’s TripMatcher is a recommendation software based upon artificial intelligence and human knowledge that advises travelers on the destinations that best match their needs and preferences. TripleHop believes that its solution is what the online travel industry needs to turn lookers into bookers and add the element of personalization that many sites have been missing.
“Product recommendation helps to increase conversion rates, and our software is the best of breed,” said Clay Stobaugh, CEO of TripleHop Technologies.
Based on the user’s expressed preferences, TripMatcher makes recommendations on destinations and travel products. TripleHop has integrated information on about 400 destinations worldwide into TripMatcher. (It is continuing to add new destinations.) For each destination, a travel expert has ranked it based upon 88 activities. Orbitz, the airline-owned Web site expected to launch this summer, and are among the travel Web sites that have recently signed on to build TripMatcher into their sites.
“The TripMatcher recommendation engine is as quick as it is smart,” says LastMinuteTravel CEO and Founder David Miranda. “The ability to bring travelers instant personalized destination information and recommendations.
SkiEurope, a tour operator offering European ski vacations to North American travelers, was one of the earliest adopters of TripleHop’s technology. It recorded a 70% increase in lead conversion rate in January, when it launched SkiMatcher, a customized version of TripMatcher., the yet-to-be launched site that uses brick and mortar agents to serve as an agent and concierge for inbound travelers, is banking on TripMatcher to serve as the heart of its service and to differentiate its site from the myriad sites currently out there.
“Triplehop recommends destinations, but there’s nothing bookable,” says Travelot Chairman and Founder Bob Isaacson. “It’s a sticky service on their site.”
Travelot is creating a service based upon Trip Matcher that creates customized itineraries based upon the traveler’s preferences. In its model the proposed itinerary goes back to a travel agent for fulfillment.
“It’s a profitable model,” says Isaacson. “We’re relying on commissions because were relying on non airline suppliers ... Travel agencies are very receptive ... it doesn’t affect existing business and we bring inbound business.”
With such sites eager to launch their TripMatcher applications, TripleHop has not had problems securing funding despite the economic downturn that has been hurting many companies in the online travel arena. Last month, TripleHop Technologies received its first institutional funding round of $3.5 million from Deutsche Asset Management and SPEF e-Fund, an affiliate of Banque Populaire Group. David West Smith of Deutsche Asset Management and SPEF`s Kevin Allen will join TripleHop`s board of directors.
“We are delighted to partner with top tier, well connected US and International VC firms and financial institutions such as Deutsche and the Banque Populaire Group. They will add tremendous value to our company,” Stobaugh said.
Last October, Boston-based Artificial Life, Inc., a provider of smart bots for the Internet, took an equity position in TripleHop Technologies through its investment subsidiary, Artificial Life Ventures, Inc. Its partnership with TripleHop Technologies, will also involve cross-promotional efforts, product integration and joint application development.