USA Today | Google, the world's most popular search engine, is expanding its reach in the lucrative online travel business. In March, Google added hotel links to its Maps application, listing hotels with room rates available to some users.
Google also is reportedly in talks to pay $1 billion to acquire ITA Software, which develops fare-shopping software for online travel agencies, airlines and fare-search-only sites, such as Bing Travel and Kayak.
Incorporating fares into Google search results would keep customers more engaged in its applications while they plan for travel, a prospect that could unnerve other fare sites. Users would be able to type in their destination and travel dates, and see flights and prices.
Looking at old maps and cartograms seems particularly relevant in a time when we’re all thinking about how information is relayed and consumed. The map of the world now centers squarely on the user. Online mapping, via sites like Google Maps, MapQuest, and Yahoo Maps, GPS chips in our phones and cars, and all the smartphone mapping apps, have allowed us to create custom maps and overlay our personal histories on geographical charts. What’s next in our journey to measure and display the world around us? It surely won’t be a folded piece of paper, but what is it?
Here are three maps that don’t conform to the badly-folded-paper-jammed–in-the-glove-compartment variety and which have caught my attention recently:
- This illustration depicts a 19th-century Inuit carvings of the coast of Greenland. The carving served as a tactile map—you could canoe along the coastline and follow the undulations of the land with your finger. When you come to the end of the map, you flip it over and the portable coastline continues down the other side. It floats, it’s waterproof, and it doesn’t require literacy or even good light. Brilliant.
FamilyGetaway.com, a new website for value-seeking families, just launched and is offering travel packages at up to 65 percent off retail prices at places like the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Koloa, Hawaii, Highmark Steamboat Springs in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.
Owned by the same company as LuxuryLink.com, FamilyGetaway.com operates in a similar manner as the popular luxury travel website by offering two purchase options:
-Auction: Those with flexible travel dates can submit bids on the package of their choice, assuring the website’s best values.
-Buy Now: For those with less flexibility, there is the Buy Now option that still offers steep discounts (often up to 50 percent off!).
Have you heard of Momondo.com yet? I’m always scouting for affordable flights, like every savvy traveler these days, and recently came across this Copenhagen-based aggregator (U.S. searches make up one-third of its market).
Whenever I encounter a site like this, I’m skeptical—how can this site really be better than the rest?—but it’s hard to argue with Momondo’s credentials. It claims to search more than 750 airfare sources (U.S. competitor Kayak covers roughly half that), including low-cost carriers, consolidators, aggregators, fledgling and major airlines. And when traveler advocate Arthur Frommer tested the top American agreegators—including Kayak, SideStep, and FareChase—only to find that the European Momondo consistently found fares that were 20 to 40 percent less.
OK, OK, we're a bit giddy over 3floz.com the genius new high-end beauty site (it launched today)—and for good reason. Founded by friends, co-workers, and longtime travel companions, Kate and Alexi (below), it only sells products that are TSA acceptable (small enough to carry-on in those transparent little plastic baggies we frequent travelers hold so dear).
Hit the ground running. CityGoRound.com, a remarkably useful new website, has compiled tools that can help you get around wherever it is you’re heading. Just type in your destination city for up a list of websites and easily-downloaded apps for mobile phones (not just iPhones) that can get you up real-time help in navigating the mean streets.
Some of the available tools are tried-and-true favorites like Google Maps, but others possess that tingly magic of future must-haves:
A couple weeks ago I attended a reception celebrating the relaunch of the new Kodak Gallery, the film company's online service that allows members to store, organize, and print photos. Now, let me first say that my interest in attending this event was piqued by my fascination with reality television. (I know, I know...) See, the host of the event was none other than Jill Zarin, one of the Real Housewives of New York City stars.
Pitter patter went my heart. And then I watched as others from the New York City cast showed up. Then my heart stopped. I'm not even going to go into details when I saw that Bravo was there filming for an upcoming episode.
Everyone has a Thanksgiving travel horror story, don’t they? Heading “over the river and through the woods” takes longer and involves more encounters with the surly and stressed hoi polloi than it did when we traveled by sleigh with lap blankets.
Google has granted travelers a respite from watching people freak out in airports during our holiday layovers en route to grandmother’s house. The benevolent search-master is footing the bill for free WiFi in 47 U.S. airports around the country between now and January 15.
The holiday travel season just got a little bit better…if you’re flying Delta, that is. Starting on Tuesday, November 24th, over 250 of Delta’s planes will have free WiFi, via the Internet service provider Gogo, sponsored by eBay.
Ever find yourself daydreaming at work about booking a last-minute trip? Thanks to Jetsetter.com—the latest venture from Gilt Groupe, best known for their utterly addictive designer flash-sales—it’s easier and more tempting than ever to do just that.
Every day, the site sends registered members an email with a new batch of specially negotiated—and deeply discounted—hotel stays around the world (at press time, a City View Junior Suite at the Epic Hotel Miami was going for $169 per night—that’s $158, or nearly 50 percent, less than the hotel’s published rate!).