Editors' pick: Originally published May 12, 2016.
The founder of travel website Kayak is launching a new travel app with a decidedly anti-Kayak approach.
The new app is called Lola, and it's billed as providing on-demand personal travel service for flights, hotels and even restaurants.
"One of the big secrets of travel is those of us who work in tech and cover tech think that all travel is booked online, and in fact, about half of travel today is booked on the phone," explains Paul English, the CEO of Lola.
"We're trying to revolutionize that part of the process."
The app is powered by artificial intelligence and by a team of travel consultants, who are able to filter search results.
"Instead of looking at 400 or 500 hotel results, we can show you just two or three that meet exactly what you are looking for, for the trip you're going on, and based on your past travel."
The initial release of Lola will be aimed at Americans traveling both domestically and abroad, but English is hoping to scale up to serve markets in Canada, Australia and, eventually, Western Europe. Longer-term plans include opening the platform to any travel agent in the world, according to English.
English raised $20 million to launch the app from the venture firms General Catalyst and Accel Partners. Those same firms helped fund Kayak, which was sold to Priceline (PCLN) for $1.8 billion in 2012.
English says he plans to raise additional funding near the end of the year to pay for expansion.
For now, the app is free for beta testers, but a membership fee is set to begin later this year.
"There will also be benefits. For joining Lola as a member, you'll get this 24/7 travel care. In addition, you'll get benefits similar to what you get for getting an Amex Platinum card," says English.
And where is English's favorite place to travel? "The last place I went to that blew my mind was Japan. I've been there three times," he says. "I just love how on the one hand it's familiar, on the other hand, it's so exotic. I love the culture in Japan."