Leaving on a Jet Plane
A new era in online travel booking takes flight
Life / 18 Mar 2011
With airlines being fined for price fixing and the cost of gas on the rise, the travel industry has become undeniably more challenging to navigate. While travel sites like Orbitz, Expedia and Kayak have long offered easily navigable ways to find a good deal, the latest entries to the category are offering globetrotters innovative new ways to maximize their vacation dollars.
Hipmunk
: The biggest challenge in planning a trip might be finding flights that leave one neither broke nor stranded in an airport. Instead of overwhelming site visitors with countless pages of options, Hipmunk delivers search results in a visually striking grid. An “agony” filter ranks flights based on an algorithm that places the least painful flight options at the top and hides results that the average person would never choose. (Who would really book a flight with a six-hour layover when a direct option is available for relatively the same cost?) Hipmunk recently added an app and visual hotel search, the latter of which flaunts an “ecstasy” filter that ranks rooms—including Airbnb options—based on price, amenities and reviews.
Travel Hacking Cartel
: Art of Non-Conformity blogger Chris Guillebeau’s latest venture, Travel Hacking Cartel, boasts the ability to transform its users into “travel ninjas...with or without the nunchucks.” (Presumably without, since weaponry won’t make it past airport security.) The service guarantees that members will earn at least four free flights a year by completing only 30 minutes of work each month using the site’s email updates and tutorials. For a small monthly fee, members can choose Economy, Business or First Class plans that clue them in to airfare and hotel deals, as well as ways to get exclusive deals usually available only to the travel elite. What’s more, they can rack up extra airline miles without even getting on a plane.
Wanderfly
: Similar to intuitive sites like Pandora and Art.sy, Wanderfly is a new travel site that helps people book trips by planning in reverse. Instead of starting with a location, travelers select a price range, a general time frame (“Late April,” “Mid June,” etc.), and their interests (food, family, outdoors, etc.). Using that information, as well as intelligence provided by a roster of partners like Not For Tourists, Rough Guides and Yelp, Wanderfly suggests destinations and develops itineraries accordingly. The site has 1,200 destinations to recommend and is growing by the day. Right now on the site, $1,000 will buy a New Yorker a one-week late August getaway in the Dominican Republic or Domenica. Sure beats a Hamptons share.
©The Intelligence Group