Dallas’s KeepTrax Offers Travelers a Diary for the Digital Age

Xconomy Texas — 

The family vacation has gone digital.

KeepTrax, a Dallas-based mobile app, is an online travel diary, aiming to make sense of all the various photos and check-ins we post online.

Founder and CEO Kedar Benegal says he wants to remember the places he travels to on trips, but he found that social media sites require you to share those posts as you kept a record. “What bothered me the most was that (those sites) are social first,” he says. “You may or may not want to share it. But you do want to keep track of the places you visited. There are practical and emotional reasons for that.”

The app arranges a traveler’s photos in a timeline that illustrates the trip while also dropping pins—a fork-and-knife one for restaurants, a pair of pine trees for a natural location—where the traveler stops. Each day, the traveler receives a daily recap of the day’s events, with locations and departure and arrival times.

While the app is likely attractive for individual users, Benegal says KeepTrax’s target customers are businesses, like travel agencies, for whom the startup would create a customized app under the business’s name.

“This is a way to differentiate; the lure is engagement,” he explains. “Once the trip is complete, there is very little reason to go back to that travel agency. Travelers would go back to the travel company’s app to see their journal, allowing the agencies to maintain relationships after the trips are complete.”

Benegal says the app can help travel agencies serve customers better. “The agents can say, ‘It looks like you spent a lot of time in this one area of Paris, the museums. Here are some recommendations,’” he says. “KeepTrax is getting insight to the agencies to support these people.”

Eventually, all that information translates into a data play, he adds. The app becomes a valuable repository of traveler’s choices, from visits to sites, restaurants, museums, and other attractions, Benegal says.

In March, KeepTrax raised $1 million in seed funding from Dallas-based Naya Ventures, which focuses on mobile startups.

Travel agencies can pay anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000, depending on the size of the agency, for a customized version of KeepTrax. A more limited version—say, a record of check-ins—of the app is free for consumers. “The travel log is not in the consumer version, and you can only get a hard copy album through the agency version of the app,” he explains.

Benegal is a former executive at Sabre, the Dallas-based travel tech company. He came up with the idea for KeepTrax five years ago, but he realized that “the economics didn’t quite work.”

“There is a lot of data that needs to be stored in the cloud, which was more expensive then,” he adds. “The battery life, the accuracy of GPS wasn’t there, so we put it aside.”

With advances in geolocation and battery life, Benegal says he resurrected the idea and made a connection with investors and customers. “We’ve been pleased with the organic growth of the business,” he says. “The main challenge is getting folks aware; there are so many apps out there. We have patents on the technology, such as a battery-saving solution. Our algorithm doesn’t drain the battery as much as others.”