EveryTrail Thumbs A Ride From TripAdvisor, As Internet Travel Business Consolidates

Newton, MA-based TripAdvisor, the travel review site owned by Bellevue, WA-based Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE), said today that it’s buying EveryTrail, a Palo Alto, CA, startup that helps users create multimedia travel tours using their GPS smartphones.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, so it’s hard to say whether the acquisition represents a sizable return on investment for GlobalMotion Media, EveryTrail’s parent company. (GlobalMotion raised $1 million in seed financing from Menlo Park, CA-based investment association Band of Angels in 2009.) But the acquisition itself is not a surprise, given the current wave of consolidation in the online travel industry—e.g., Google’s proposed takeover of ITA Software and Redmond, WA-based Concur’s recent acquisition of San Francisco’s TripIt. And it’s an interesting combination, potentially allowing TripAdvisor—which is mainly known for its user-contributed hotel and restaurant reviews—to offer more interactive content, and to enhance its presence on mobile platforms.

The Massachusetts company already has decent mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Palm, and Nokia phones, but they largely consist of mobile-optimized repackagings of TripAdvisor’s online listings. Adam Medros, TripAdvisor’s vice president of global product, implied in today’s announcement that his company was interested in EveryTrail because it wants to serve mobile users better. “Every day, more people are opting to use mobile apps as a way of consuming travel information,” Medros said. “EveryTrail bolsters our continued commitment to grow TripAdvisor’s mobile offering, and enable travelers to access walking tours, city guides and hiking trails directly from their smartphones.”

The heart of EveryTrail’s service is a mobile app, available for the iPhone and Android phones, that travelers and outdoor enthusiasts can use to create map-based slide shows on the fly. When you turn on the app, it uses GPS to track your movement across a city, region, or trail. Every photo that you take while the app is running is geotagged, and when your trip is done, the app uploads the pictures and the GPS path information to the EveryTrail website, where everything is assembled into a “Trip”—a map overlaid with a slide show. (I’ve personally used EveryTrail on several occasions, and have embedded an example below from an August bike trip around San Francisco.)

Last year EveryTrail also introduced “Guides”—formally produced Trips around famous locations such as Yosemite’s Half Dome. EveryTrail Guides are downloadable as individual iPhone apps from the iTunes App Store and are intended for on-the-spot use by travelers. Individual EveryTrail users can create their own Guides and submit them for sale. If their Guides are approved, they get points that can be redeemed for gift certificates at Moosejaw.com, an online outdoor-gear retailer.

“Like TripAdvisor, EveryTrail is possible because of a global community of travelers who share their stories every day,” EveryTrail CEO Joost Schreve said in a statement. “The mobile platform that we provide lets travelers turn these stories into highly engaging mobile travel guides that help other travelers enjoy their trips even more. We are delighted to join TripAdvisor in this exciting new phase that will give us the ability to bring our tours and guides to TripAdvisor’s 40 million travelers all over the world.”

In a blog post today, Schreve said TripAdvisor “recognized that EveryTrail has created important elements for the mobile travel age that would be tremendously useful for the TripAdvisor community.” He didn’t detail exactly how the EveryTrail-TripAdvisor integration will proceed, but he did promise that “we’ll bring EveryTrail functionality into the TripAdvisor suite of products.”

I’ve reached out to TripAdvisor for more comment on the acquisition, but haven’t heard back yet. I’ll let you know if I find out more. [Update, 2:45 p.m. ET, 2/3/11: I just talked with Adam Medros and got more of the story about what TripAdvisor saw in EveryTrail and how their respective apps might be woven together.]

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