Travel-planning site Culture Trip
is soft-launching an OTA, initially enabling users to book 120 accommodations
in 12 destinations.
Culture Trip said the OTA will expand to include more
accommodations and experiences, and eventually flights and packages.
Culture Trip is a travel, media and entertainment site with original
video series, stories, destination guides and animation.
Screen shot of a hotel listing on Culture Trip.
Culture Trip senior vice president of travel Andy Washington
said the idea is to offer "storytelling before you get to that booking."
As an example, if a user is browsing content on Tokyo, they
might see articles about accommodations in the city. But unlike more
traditional OTAs, they won't encounter availability searches and prices early in
their browsing; instead, they'll be presented with information on the
accommodation like editorial content and photos.
"We're trying to be like a really good personal travel
agent that can talk you through, make recommendations, take you through the
funnel," Washington said.
To create its booking platform, Culture Trip partnered with
travel software company CodeGen and its TravelBox platform. CodeGen has a
number of API partners that provides inventory. Initially, Culture Trip will
launch with inventory from Expedia, Washington said. By the end of the year, it
will open its system to other API partners and add its own direct contracts.
According to Washington, Culture Trip currently has 18
million unique monthly visitors consuming its content. Affiliate partnerships
offering bookings through Hotels.com and Expedia have been positive, he said.
So far, Culture Trip has monetized sponsorships and
promotions around the series it has created, like "Beyond Hollywood" and "Hungerlust."