Demo 2008 is the annual event where start-ups get to do a brief pitch to potential investors. Circos is a new qualitative search engine:
According Tech Crunch:
While Kango auto-generates tags after pouring through user reviews, Circo lets users search for any qualities they’re interested in. The engine then grades and ranks the results by each quality on an “A” through “F” scale based on how well the description fits for reviewers. For example, a hotel reviewers feel is spacious would rate highly if searching for openness, but poorly if you’re looking for a tiny room.
As with most search engines, Circos’ real test will be whether its application draws users away from other hotel and restaurant sites with less sophisticated search engines. Currently there are a bunch competing in the space. However, Circos says their technology can easily be extended to other categories since their algorithm does all the tough work of pulling the most relevant qualities from reviews. If hotels and restaurants don’t appeal, another category may hold their home run.”
This announcement demonstrates the unfilled market need for more qualitative search results. The key to the success of new start-ups such as Circos or Kango will be measured on their ability to become the first stop for qualitative travel search. This will require not only a great product (producing results that better match a user’s search descriptions) but creating enough of a brand buzz to draw traffic from user generated review sites such as Trip Advisor or IgoUgo, not an impossible task, but one that will require both paid promotion as well as successful viral marketing effort. These companies both sit in the planning part of the travel research and buying process and thus can benefit from referral fees paid by OTAs and suppliers. Semantic search is an important area to watch for the online travel industry.