Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Yen Lee, president of the new travel search company Kango. For those who do not know Yen, he has an extensive background in online travel most recently as the head of Yahoo! Travel. So what is unique about Kango? The company is building a semantic travel search engine. Rather than simply displaying results of a key word search by PageRank (the method used by Google) , Kango delivers results that are more personalized based on specific attributes entered into the search criteria. Kango is creating an ontology of global travel content that includes ranking of superlatives within review sites. This enables the search engine to rate a given hotel, for example, putting greater value on adjectives such as “This is the best hotel for kids in Monterey California”. Kango allows users to search hotels, activities and other travel related content filtered to meet their own specific preferences. In other words, rather than simply searching for a four star hotel in Monterey, Kango users can use specific descriptive words such as “romantic” to identify the most appropriate hotel to meet their needs. Though the idea of segmenting travel search has been introduced by sites such as the Travelocity Experience Finder or Home and Abroad, Kango’s backend semantic catalogue represents a different approach. These other experience oriented sites have created a taxonomy of their content enabling an experience oriented search limited to their traditional content. Rather than simply putting content into categories, Kango’s ontology defines travel content in terms of superlatives delivering a numeric ranking of search results that integrates mutiple user generated content. This includes review sites such as Trip Advisor and travel blog sites such as Gusto!. This is not simply a repurposing of ratings from these sites. The Kango engine evaluates reviews and blogs of a specific hotel property for example, across multiple sites to deliver a consolidated rating that reflects the descriptive needs of the user. Kango is adding this semantic interperation of travel content not only to traditional hotel information, but also by embracing the Long Tail concept, Kango is including content options such as campgrounds and other disenfranchised elements of travel industry that normally are not included in standard OTA content. Kango’s focus is on the planning phase of travel and will refer their users to booking sites for reservations. This is truly an innovative approach to travel planning that has the potential to truly change the way consumers search travel content.