Current investors KPG Ventures, Tenaya Capital, Austin Ventures and angel investors participated in the round, which brings NileGuide’s total funding up to around $13 million since its founding in 2006.
NileGuide CEO Josh Steinitz says the fundingÂ will accelerate the site’s integration of Q & A functionality and the NileGuide Experts (formerly Localyte) community that NileGuide acquired this spring.
Here’s a sneak peak on how NileGuide plans to showcase its NileGuide community across all of its pages with its Ask a Local feature.
NileGuide received its new funding round at a time when many may be asking whether travel inspiration websites will ever gain a foothold and make money.
Consider, for example, that Travel Ad Network just acquired TravelMuse in an asset sale, and gliider co-founder Jordan Stolper seems to be focusing his energies on a new publishing venture, StoryDesk.com.
In NileGuide’s case, Steinitz argues that travel inspiration is not dead, but needs to evolve beyond “glossy magazine pictures” into relevancy based on a traveler’s location, preferences, friends and family and, of course, Â authentic local information.
NileGuide thus has de-emphasized trip-planning tools on the site in favor of content and local recommendations, Steinitz says.
“Iâ€™d say that what happened with gliider and Travelmuse and the like is not that their offerings werenâ€™t useful or that inspiration is dead, but that if youâ€™re not a transaction engine, you need more than great tools to build a sustainable business with enough users to matter,” Steinitz says. “Inspiration is necessary but not sufficient.â€ť
On the traffic front, Buhler suggest that travel inspiration sites partner with destination management organizations, which often have traffic, but lack trip-planning tools.
And, he sees the lack of integrated booking solutions as an even larger problem.
“What’s the customer benefit of providing a great tool to collect trip data from all over the web — gliider, TravelMuse et al.Â – plan a great trip, share it with your friends, but then what?” Buhler asks. “Start all over again to find those great trip elements on an online travel agency site, coordinate availability etc? Â It doesn’t really make for a compelling one-stop solution, does it?”
Buhler argues that travel inspiration/trip-planning sites need to break out of their isolation, and cooperate with organizations such as DMOs and OTAs.
“Personally, I think the Dream-Learn-Plan phases, in addition to Go-Share, should get more attention by the major players with both the traffic and resources to develop suitable technology,” Buhler says. “The OTAs seem to fit the bill, but I’m not aware of any of them paying serious attention.”
That might be inspiring.