Every so often (ok, maybe quite often) I decide it would be great to get away for a few days. I shake my pockets, determine I’ve got a little change I’m willing to spend. And frankly, I don’t much care where I go– I just want to go somewhere. And yet when these impulse moments strike, I find it nearly impossible to weave through the labyrinth of travel web sites to discover something and so– sadly– I end up going nowhere. What I need isn’t another travel search engine that responds only to my exact input. That functionality is pretty well commoditized and I can find the same flights, hotels, car rentals on several web sites. What I need is a travel “discovery” engine that reveals great possibilities that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for. Ideally, I would provide the following info:
1) My dates of travel with the ability to add plus/minus days on either side (ala Kayak.com)
2) I know my departure cities/airports
3) I do *not* know my destination…..this is the “discovery” I want the site to bring to me
4) I know number of folks traveling with me
5) I know that I only want nonstop flights. With kids at my side and a short trip, I ain’t laying over and wasting time in transit.
That’s it: I want to enter this and get a price sorted list of flight and hotel combinations. I do not want to sort through a bunch of packages with date restrictions which make the price listed meaningless, or get far into the process only to find out that actually the flight is full (this happens all the time). Just give me the straight dope, 1 click to purchase, and you’ve got my CC out and me on a plane.
I know discovery engines are more complicated than search engines — I’ve worked on, and with, both. But it’s this kind of functionality that is still sorely lacking in the travel world and where, I think, a site has a great chance to extend the overall market (people would travel more) and break away from its peers. If anyone knows a site doing a good job let me know….and maybe I’ll make some plans this fall after all.