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.
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.