Zicasso: online travel...with a personal touch

My mom is a big-time traveler (in fact, she's now on a trip to somewhere in south America). Interestingly enough, she uses a travel agent – even though she's an avid user of the Net.

Why? Well, my mom's trips tend to be fairly personalized. And, for the most part, automated Web sites just don't quite do the job.

But that may be changing. That is, there's a new site – called Zicasso – that combines the benefits of Web 2.0 and travel agents.

Here's how it works: You fill out an interactive questionnaire about the trip you want to take. For example, you can specify your requirements for airport transfers, cruises, special tours (say a balloon ride), a driver, and so on.

From there, your request is sent to a variety of pre-screened travel agents, who will then present you with a proposal. The Zicasso network includes more than 100 travel companies.

Something else: After your trip, you can provide feedback on the Zicasso community. You can also upload your photos.

"We think of Zicasso as a combination of Lending Tree and eBay," said Brian Tan, who is Zicasso's co-founder, in an interview with me. "Our goal is to build a community and help people have an authentic travel experience, without worry about the hassles."

Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook and The Edgar Online Guide to Decoding Financial Statements. He also operates DealProfiles.com.

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