Sunday, July 08, 2007

Travel Need: Can someone help?

I'm a frustrated impulse traveler. It takes way too long to search through even existing ajax-rich travel websites for deals that meet my criteria. I'm on travel deal mailing lists (BookingBuddy, for one) but haven't found what I need. I know it's possible today, and it's a business that might already exist:

I want a search agent that's heavily customizable to send me updates when certain things happen. What I specifically want is the ability to watch for fares of certain types to specific places FROM MY LOCAL AIRPORTS, or fares for vacation deals, again, FROM MY LOCAL AIRPORTS.

Sample criteria I want to have an agent look for:

  • Boston to Greece, unusually low, no more than 1 stopover (and it can't be a 12 hour stopover)
  • Long weekend vacation packages to certain Caribbean islands, from Boston, flights no longer than 4 hours (including any stopovers). Under a certain price threshold.
  • Extraordinary low prices on fares to certain continents, again from Boston or local airports here.
  • Alerts for fares from Boston to key cities I care about (e.g., Paris, London, Cleveland, San Jose).
  • Unusual travel packages like volunteer work, adventure (er, not athletic, but cultural), educational. I get to rate these as they come in and get more like them or less like them, till it learns what I like.
  • A home page where I can tune and browse, and easily set up new email alerts; something like Amazon's Recommendations system. I want it to know me and learn about me.
Again, all this is possible. Am I missing someone's service somewhere? The cheap travel browsing sites are all very similar, too much work, and too manual for me.

PS. If someone wants to start this business, I'd be very motivated to help design it and to collect more requirements. Drop me a note.


Greg Raiz said...

This isn't exactly what you want but a friend of mine started a site that gives last minute travel+hotel rates. It's good for impulsive trips.

Lynn said...

Thanks, Greg. Actually, I just emailed Kayak, they answered right away, and apparently some of the alerts I want are handled by their Buzz feature. I signed up for about 6 of them -- I'll be curious how they work for me.

I'll look at your friend's site too. hasn't worked for me AT ALL this summer -- everything good isn't from Boston and is gone by the time I get to it!

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in comments from people who know this space.

The real trick is to have a friend with a private jet:-)

Anonymous said...

Lynn, do you know about FareCast? It's a startup in Seattle which tracks airline ticket price trends, and has a very cool search refinement UI on the left.

Lynn said...

Hi Swissish,
Thanks for the pointer... I must admit I'm less interested in US fare prices-- when I travel in the US, it's because I have to, when I travel abroad, it's because I want to. The price I'm willing to pay reflects this, I guess.

Also, I can't tell how different FareCast will be from something like Kayak, who already show price trends and have similar UI controls. I feel like this niche is being stuffed already with similar players...