Click It and Ticket
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Planning a vacation on the Web can be so infuriating that sometimes it’s tempting to just stay home. “It’s a complete mess to plan a trip,” says Frederic Lalonde, a former Expedia vice president and the founder of Hopper, a Boston-area startup whose travel site launches in January. “Why can’t I go online and ask, ‘What national parks can I fly to this weekend for under $300?’”
Lalonde set out to build a system to make this possible. Think about how iTunes catalogs every song in its database and uses an algorithm (its “Genius” application) to help you find music you’ll like. Lalonde wants Hopper to do the same for travel. The site combs through destination websites, private blogs, and user reviews, then sorts the information in a way that allows for easy, personalized searching. Already Hopper has cataloged more than 1 billion Web pages, and Lalonde says his team is adding 100 million more each month.
The business community likes the idea. To date, Hopper has raised $22 million in venture capital, and recently moved its headquarters from Montreal to Cambridge to be near Kayak and TripAdvisor, both of which have major presences in the Boston area. As of press time, more than 7,000 users had already signed up.