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RAVN Helps Travelers – and Locals – Uncover Cities’ Best-Kept Secrets

November 30, 2011

9:18 am

San Francisco startup RAVN’s goal is to help users discover and book “every possible thing they could be doing in their city” – and they mean everything, from gourmet chocolate tours to jiu jitsu training to a pancakes-and-booze art show.

This makes their offerings broader than those on similar sites, like Zozi and Kijubi, which mostly highlight sporty outdoor activities. Founded in 2010, RAVN has amassed over 15,000 things to do, which you can filter by who you’re bringing, how much it costs, and type – like relaxing or artsy.

“RAVN is both a traveler’s companion and a local’s insider guide,” says Joe Frabotta, RAVN’s margeting guru. In fact, RAVN is constantly working to balance local and touristy activities, Frabotta says:

That is the main challenge, but we feel it starts local. Our goal is to help locals uncover their city’s best-kept secrets, which in turn helps travelers ‘travel like a local.’ We have plenty of landmark activities in every city, but also many that are considered off-the-beaten-path….Even though half of the team is native to the Bay Area, through RAVN they’ve found things to do that they didn’t know existed.

RAVN learns to offer better recommendations when you click “want it” or “not interested” on suggested activities – for example, RAVN already knows that I like walking tours and food tastings. It’s also social: you can earn followers and get recommendations based on what they like. This makes RAVN similar to Spontaneous, although the latter doesn’t handle bookings.

Businesses can list for free on RAVN, which also provides a platform for them to manage reservations and accept payments. This opens up opportunities for businesses that have never accepted online payments before. RAVN takes a commission of 5% on bookings (or lower for paid monthly plans).

RAVN is currently available in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Honolulu, and it is coming soon to Boston, Washington, DC, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas. To hear more from RAVN, join us at our Tech Cocktail San Francisco mixer tonight.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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