Seattle-based Utrip uses an artificial intelligence platform to help travelers plan personalized itineraries quickly and easily.
Who: Gilad Berenstein, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Utrip.
Travel planning streamlined:Utrip uses an online artificial intelligence platform that quickly crafts ideal travel itineraries based on a user’s preferences. The user can set preferences via sliders for items such as budget, activities and pace of trip. Once the user selects a destination, the platform produces an itinerary based on those preferences.
All accounted for: Berenstein, who immigrated from Israel with his family when he was 10, worked as a certified public accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers before starting Utrip. An avid traveler, he was inspired to create Utrip after planning a trip to Europe and wondering why there wasn’t an easier way to do it. Having been introduced to artificial intelligence through his AI architect father, Berenstein decided in April 2011 to pursue using it to streamline travel planning.
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Length of stay: Berenstein assembled a team that researched such areas as psychology and travel planning, completing a platform prototype at the end of 2011. The online platform officially launched in beta in July 2012 and was brought out of beta in April 2014. “We continuously improved and iterated both on the algorithm side as well as on the user experience and the database,” he said.
Number crunching: Utrip has 13 employees, and seven “advisers” — consultants in disciplines including psychology and AI. The site currently has 42 destinations with more added regularly. While he wouldn’t specify user count, Berenstein noted that more than 100,000 people used the beta site from 2012 to 2013. So far, the company has acquired $2 million in investments, all from angel investors.
License to bill: Utrip makes its money by partnering with lodging companies, destinations and points of interest via a program called Utrip Pro. Utrip embeds its platform into the location’s website, allowing customers to plan trips from that site. Utrip receives a licensing fee Berenstein wouldn’t specify. The program launched in September 2014 and, so far, clients include Personality Hotels, Visit Dallas and Visit Spokane.
Personal preference: Berenstein’s travel plans? Thailand and Brazil top his bucket list. His favorites of places he’s been are Barcelona, Croatia and Montenegro.
— Jason Axelrod