Even a recession, a new travel site sprouts up

With the online world filled with travel Web sites, another is joining the fray today, with the goal of offering last-minute offers and sales to travelers who are looking for bargains and are flexible with their travel dates.

Voyij.com, which debuts today, is similar to Kayak.com, in that it can aggregate travel sites and find the best deal on specific dates. Voyij does the same, but lets people explore and discover more options by finding the best sales, said Brent Stewart, CEO of Voyij.

The site deals in "distressed inventory" that might otherwise go unsold and thus, unused. In other words, these are sales and last-minute offers that hotels and airlines are offering because they don't want the beds or seats to go empty.

Starting another travel Web site during a recession may sound counter-intuitive as people cut discretionary spending. But Stewart doesn't see it that way. People may not be traveling as far or for as long as they did before the recession, but they're still traveling, he said.

Voyij is after the Travelzoo.com market, a site that looks old and doesn't sort deals as well as Voyij does. For the flexible traveler, such as someone looking to go somewhere next weekend, or in a few months, Voyij has 17,000 deals in its system, and has plans to get up to 30,000, compared with other sites that have 10,000 or less.

The fun part of Voyij is that from the homepage you can type in what airport you want to fly out of, and within seconds out pop at least a dozen deals, which you can refine by hotel, flight or packages. From there you can refine it by departing date, destination, trip length, star rating and amenities.

The business is founded by the same people who developed and sold SideStep to Kayak for $200 million. With $120 billion in online travel last year, Stewart said he expects Voyij to be profitable in a year.

"We believe we can create a consumer brand" that's unique, he said.

The online travel market may be crowded, which can overwhelm consumers looking for deals, but Stewart said his site makes it easy to find deals.

"We do take the overwhelming part out of it," he said in a telephone interview from his office in Cupertino, Calif.

"People want deals. We built a better mousetrap, actually," Stewart said.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net
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