If you haven’t tried it out yet, check out Farechase. I started using it last summer when it was still in beta to book flights to California. It has a slick AJAX interface that lets you change your search by all kinds of criteria on the fly.

This service is different from the others, Orbitz, Travelocity, etc. – not just because it’s ajaxified – but also because it sends you directly to the carrier’s website for booking. Basically it’s an information aggregator, not a booking engine. This is much more attractive to the airline industry because they end up receiving the visitor and reservation on their website. Orbitz, on the other hand, charges a booking fee of about $6 AND acts like the travel agent, booking the flight for you – the customer never sees the airline’s website. This is a big paradigm shift in online travel booking, even if people don’t realize it or notice it.

(Also, the “hotels” search should give you a glimpse of the future of real estate online. All dynamic, all responsive to your whims as fast as the technology allows it.)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

billo October 11, 2006 at 10:53 am

If you like farechase, try kayak.com.

You might like it even more, I hope.

(If you don’t like it more, I’d love to hear why. You won’t hurt my feelings at all, I promise)

-billo, chief architect, kayak.com

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Markus October 26, 2006 at 1:47 pm

Hi Billo, thanks for visiting and commenting.

I like kayak – I think it’s great. However, for some reason I don’t think of it very often when I search. I think for me it comes down to the feel.

I think kayak could use some help in the beauty department. Check out this post on “pretty is a feature” – with which I completely agree.

There are ways to make something look fantastic without taking away anything from function. Function you have (and it’s great), but style is something that you can probably work on. Digg is a great example of style meets function IMHO. The “feel” of it is minimalistic but the little details in the design make all the difference.

Most notably, I think the home page on kayak needs to have the links and forms grouped in a slightly more visually appealing and intuitive way. It’s the little details, but they do make a big difference. A good example of visually intuitive and simple is: http://www.heyamigo.net/

You might want to contact Jeff Veen – he knows a lot about building great UI’s. He might be available for consulting.

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dan December 4, 2006 at 11:07 am

Have you tried Trabber? Trabber is a new travel search engine that aggregates content from online travel agencies and airlines’ websites. Here is the address: http://www.trabber.com

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Chris March 20, 2007 at 12:56 pm

Sidestep (sidestep.com) is also pretty cool.

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