We head out to the PhoCusWright conference each year to find out what’s new in the world of Internet travel. This year’s was held last week at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ—and while we didn’t get a chance to play the property’s gorgeous golf course (which is so steeped in Scottish tradition you can rent a kilt to play in!), we did get a chance to meet with some cutting-edge creators of travel technology. Some highlights:
Gogobot. Facebook for travelers. Get and give advice on destinations around the globe, connect with friends and like-minded travelers, and create trip plans. Sure, you could ask questions of your Facebook friends, but Gogobot channels those questions into specific destinations and delivers an audience guaranteed to be passionate about travel.
TrustYou. Look out, Trip Advisor: This site not only pulls in user reviews from across the Web, but also analyzes them using semantic technology and pushes the qualities most important to you to the top of the results. A search for “Inexpensive New York hotels,” for example, offered up the Roger Smith, since it had 7 user reviews with the words “very low rate.” Very cool.
Hipmunk. Operating on the correct assumption that air travel can be agonizing, Hipmunk (yes, their logo is a chipmunk) has created a way to search and sort flights by how agonizing they are—i.e. number and length of layovers. Additionally, the site hides an airline’s similar flights that are more agonizing (i.e. longer elapsed time and more expensive) so you don’t have to wade through them.
UsingMiles. Quick: how many miles do you have on Delta? What about American? And how much will it cost to use them? UsingMiles gives you a place to track your miles as well as your hotel rewards points. Then, when you’re ready to book, the site’s search engine shows you all available award-travel options, how many miles you’ll use (or need) to book, and—most importantly—what the value of those miles is vs. paying for a ticket.
Stash Hotel Rewards. We all get rewards points at the big chain hotels like Starwood and—as of recently—the Ritz-Carlton. But why not at small, independent hotels? Stash has created a network of boutique properties where you can earn points for free nights. Now that's something we can all use more of.