RealTime IT News

Boo.com is Back as Travel Site

Once a poster child for dot-com flameouts, former online fashion retailing site boo.com is back in business -- this time as an online travel research site with a social-networking twist.

The site, which went live this week, is capitalizing on the social-networking craze to offer a collection of online communities that comment on their experiences to help fellow travelers make more informed choices before booking. It's like Yelp, the restaurant-and-more review site. Only for Boo.com, it is all about travel.

Ray Nolan, CEO of boo.com, said one of the goals of the site is to end the "circle of gloom" in which customers slog through different sites and platforms to find the right hotel or flight before booking.

"We call it social networking with a purpose," he told internetnews.com. "It's about you and I sharing our favorite places, either among ourselves or with a broader audience." After all, he noted, you're more likely to take your friends' recommendations about where to go in New York for a steak.

The site is keen on the trust factor. Nolan said users can identify members that they trust and see what they think of hotels, bars, restaurants and sightseeing. They can also create their own "boo crew" in order to highlight group reviews alongside the wider network.

But why choose the same dot-com that became legendary for how much cash it burned (an estimated $150 million), before it went belly up in early 2000?

Nolan said in a way, the site is exorcising the ghost of boo's past, but at the same time respecting the vision of the original venture to "create a site that caters to the user, loaded with interactivity, results and emotion."

Total investment for this version of boo.com? Nolan said about $300,000, and that the parent company of boo.com, online reservation provider Web Reservations International (WRI), did over $19 million (euro) in profit last year.

Plus, he added, "We really just liked the domain name. It works well in many languages."