Travel Search Innovation – the Next Breakthrough

My, what a contrast in travel innovation. The first two presenters at today’s PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit were Hipmunk and Evature. Both focus on simplifying the travel search process. Pay attention to the implications for corporate travel.

Hipmunk is focusing on de-cluttering the results of a traditional travel search.  It integrates air and Amtrak rail options into flight searches, and combines hotels with AirBnB results. Hotels are presented with geo-heat maps to highlight shopping, dining and vice (really). Beautifully done.

Evature says hooey on traditional travel search – too many point and clicks, radio buttons, sliders, etc.  Solution?  Semantic search, aka free (unformatted) text.  “Summer beach vacation for about $600 per person”  Think about how time-consuming that search is in today’s OTA world.  Same for business – typing  “Day trip to Chicago next Tuesday” has to be easier than getting those parameters into a self-booking tool.  And yes, Evature accepts speech, just like Siri.

So Hipmunk is simplifying the structured travel search process, while Evature is handling the complexity of simple travel searches. A fascinating contrast in travel innovation.  Who will win?

My prediction: Free text/free speech trumps structured search.  Speaking is easier than typing, especially in a mobile world.  Imagine a corporate booking tool that uses Evature or Siri-based search capability.  That will be a true next-generation breakthrough in the self-booking space.

I wonder who will be the first to bring speech-based search to the corporate travel market?

(Update: The day after this post, Evature was named as the grand winner by judges at the Travel Innovation Summit)

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Views on Travel Innovation, Part 3: What’s Needed

Good innovation solves worthy problems.  Here are three problems that strike me as worthy, and their very rough calls to action.  (Part 1 in this series covers major travel innovations to date; Part 2 covers key non-technology factors that will affect the future of the travel industry.)

Problem: Tedious Travel SearchesContinue reading