November 24, 2010

We head out to the PhoCusWright conference each year to findout what’s new in the world of Internet travel. This year’s was held last week at theWestin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ—and while we didn’t get achance to play the property’s gorgeous golf course (which is so steeped inScottish 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 destinationsaround the globe, connect with friends and like-minded travelers, and createtrip 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 acrossthe Web, but also analyzes them using semantic technology and pushes thequalities most important to you to the top of the results. A search for “InexpensiveNew York hotels,” for example, offered up the Roger Smith, since it had 7 userreviews 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 byhow agonizing they are—i.e. number and length of layovers. Additionally, thesite hides an airline’s similar flights that are more agonizing (i.e. longerelapsed 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 howmuch will it cost to use them? UsingMiles gives you a place totrack your miles as well as your hotel rewards points. Then, when you’re readyto 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 thevalue of those miles is vs. paying for a ticket.

StashHotel Rewards. We all get rewards points at the big chain hotels likeStarwood and—as of recently—the Ritz-Carlton. But why not at small, independenthotels? Stash has created a network of boutique properties where you can earnpoints for free nights. Now that's something we can all use more of.

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