The relentless pursuit of excellence

Photo of the annual wildebeest migration, by Brian Tan, CEO Zicasso
Photo of the annual wildebeest migration, by Brian Tan, CEO Zicasso

The annual wildebeest migration, seen on a safari in Tanzania.

What we do

At Zicasso, we excel at helping you get your vacation planned. Not just any vacation, but exceptional vacations filled with inspiring and life-enriching experiences.

Luxury African Safaris
Luxury African Safaris

 Our approach is different. We don’t plan any trips ourselves. Instead, we match you with 2 or 3 leading travel specialists who are the most qualified to make your dream trip happen. They then compete to design your ideal itinerary.      

We’re experts at finding and matching you with the world’s finest travel agents and boutique tour companies. Each travel specialist partner on Zicasso is personally and meticulously screened by us. You’ll only be matched with specialists who are true experts at customizing your particular trip.

Our travel partners excel at handcrafting and coordinating complex international luxury itineraries. Their expertise and connections cover all logistics, transportation, accommodation, guides, and insider access to unique experiences – as well as 24X7 support throughout your trip.

Custom Travel

How it works

  • Get matched to top travel specialists

    Tell us about your ideal trip and the kind of experiences you’d like to include. We’ll match you with 2-3 reputable, pre-qualified travel specialists who are the best fit for your trip.
  • Get your trip planned

    Our travel specialist partners will arrange an initial phone consultation or exchange emails with you to better understand your specific interests and vacation preferences. They will compete for your business using their expertise and insights to craft unique itinerary and activity proposals.
  • Book your custom trip, with a guarantee

    You select the travel specialist who impresses you the most. After your itinerary is refined to perfection, book it with the travel specialist, who will then confirm all services and coordinate all logistics – including 24X7 support throughout your trip.
     
    Book with confidence. Zicasso provides a guarantee against default and fraud.
  • Share feedback with fellow travelers

    After your trip we’ll invite you to write a review, so you can help other travelers with your candid feedback. Only travelers who have purchased a trip through Zicasso are eligible to share their travel reviews.
Florence Luxury Travel
Brian and Yuchun Zicasso Owners
Zicassso founders Yuchun Ku (COO) and Brian Tan (CEO).

Our story

  Brian Tan and Yuchun Ku started Zicasso to solve their own travel challenges. As busy executives in Silicon Valley, this husband and wife team wanted to explore two new international destinations each year – but didn’t have time to fully plan their vacations.

Planning a complex international itinerary using online sites would take them forever. Using a traditional travel agency didn’t help either, because the agents were usually generalists without expert knowledge of Brian and Yuchun’s chosen destinations.

As they searched, however, the couple did find several travel specialists with expert destination knowledge and insider access to incredible experiences. They typically worked in small boutique companies with fewer than half a dozen employees. When Brian and Yuchun used these exceptional specialists, they got exceptional vacations!

In the process, they identified a pressing need for a one-stop online service that could reliably match discerning travelers with proven, pre-qualified specialists in specific fields of travel. And thus, Zicasso was born.

As well as a unique ‘matchmaking’ system linking travelers with top planning specialists, Brian and Yuchun designed a series of rigorous standards and systems to ensure that only the best companies ever make it onto Zicasso’s database. Every agent is personally interviewed and must demonstrate exceptional destination knowledge and local contacts before they can join the Zicasso network. They must also maintain a minimum rating of 4.25 out of 5 stars in their reviews from Zicasso travelers.

As founder and CEO, Brian leads the company with a laser focus on excellence. He’s recognized as a leader and visionary in the industry, often quoted in top travel publications and regularly speaking at shows like The New York Times Travel Show.

Brian’s never-ending curiosity to learn and understand our world has taken him to more than 45 countries – from climbing the Great Wall of China to diving the Great Barrier Reef. He has a particular passion for African safaris and wilderness conservation.

Brian received his MBA and MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, as well as a BS in Electrical Engineering from Brown University.

Founder and COO Yuchun leads our team in marketing, finance, user experience and design, and customer service.

Yuchun’s travels to over 50 countries have taken her to all corners of the planet, from the Andes to Zanzibar. She’s completely passionate about wildlife – as demonstrated by her all-time favorite photo, which shows her peering out of a safari vehicle just as a sleeping male lion suddenly woke up!

Yuchun holds an MBA from the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Architecture from UC Berkeley, and an MS in Engineering from National Taiwan University.

As our CPO (Chief Play Officer), Rico ensures that the Zicasso team maintains high productivity by taking regular walks and playing endless games of fetch.

He also provides senior management with daily coaching on how to maintain boundless energy and enthusiasm.

Rico didn’t graduate from any reputable training schools (and frankly, didn’t see the point given his career aspirations to become a CPO.)

How we select the best travel specialists

Our commitment is that each travel specialist in Zicasso’s network is among the finest travel agents and tour operators – experts whom we consider the top 10%, or perhaps even the top 1%, in the industry.

To ensure quality, we’ve spent thousands of hours pre-qualifying and selecting our travel specialist partners. During this process:

  • We personally interview each potential new partner in detail. To determine their expertise and service levels, an initial interview typically lasts two hours.
  • We require that travel specialists have traveled extensively within the countries and destinations they sell, and continue to travel there every year.
  • We review examples of their customized travel itineraries in depth.
  • We continuously monitor their industry references, professional reputations, client testimonials, etc.
  • We assess their financial integrity and must feel confident enough to provide you with protection against travel specialist partner default or fraud.

Our Commitment to Quality

By the time a new travel specialist joins the Zicasso network, we’ve usually spent at least four hours vetting their capabilities and credentials, setting quality expectations, and coaching their staff. To achieve consistent excellence, we have found that there are absolutely no short cuts in this process!

But we don’t stop at this initial vetting. We also monitor quality based upon honest reviews from our trusted travelers. All Zicasso travelers are invited to write reviews when they return from their trips, and each travel specialist must maintain a minimum 4.25 star average rating out of a maximum of 5 stars. Every review comes from a real traveler who has purchased a trip through Zicasso.

See Our Guarantee

Our values and community

Zicasso’s community is one in which discerning travelers seek the best in quality, authenticity and value, and travel companies strive to deliver the same. The best travel specialists receive the recognition they deserve and consequently get more business. Travelers and travel specialists come to Zicasso to help each other experience the very best in travel – from both their perspectives.

In order to promote and reward excellence in travel, our community is guided by the following core values:

  • We believe in open and honest communications – and no hidden agendas.
  • We believe that everyone will “do the right thing” and act with integrity and fairness
  • We respect each other’s time and effort
  • We treat others the way we want to be treated
  • We are always here to help each other experience the best in travel

In the spirit of these values, Zicasso also pledges that:

  • We always operate with the highest integrity
  • We never spam
  • We never share our users’ names and contact information with any third parties
  • We take your privacy protection extremely seriously

How we make money

We charge a fee to our sellers or travel specialist partners. However, no travel specialist can pay their way to becoming part of Zicasso – our vetting process independently reviews whether they are good enough to join. Our buyers (the travelers) do not pay to use our service.

This is the same way in which eBay, Amazon and other online marketplaces make money. Because Zicasso’s travel specialist partners know that they are competing for your business, they strive to deliver the best vacation experiences and service for your travel dollars.

What’s with the name?

The Zicasso name evolved from our desire to personalize each trip with experiences that are unique, authentic, and a million miles from mass tourism. This is a feat that we believe computers won’t be able to deliver for generations to come – an art that’s best left to true travel specialists. Like the great artist Picasso whom we admire, “Zicasso” represents our relentless search for the unique and the original – out of zillions of possibilities.