The Flexible Finder
Admit it: You type full-sentence questions into Google because it always seems to find the right answers. But up until Adioso hit the Web, there wasn’t a travel search engine where you could make a natural-language inquiry and get an instant response. Now, you can type in questions like, “what’s the cheapest flight to Vegas this weekend,” or simply, “take me somewhere warm tomorrow,” and wait for results. This revolutionary tool lets flexible travelers type in random prompts to find the best deals anywhere in the world any time. It thinks like you think, which is a refreshing change from the box-ticking nightmare of finding a good deal within a broad area on other sites.
Behold the rise of the (bed)sharing economy! Easynest made headlines in July with its novel approach to penny-pincher accommodation: sleeping with strangers. Essentially, the San Francisco startup links single travelers with solo “hosts” to share a double or twin hotel room in select cities. Pairs typically examine each other’s profiles and message back and forth before agreeing to a night in close quarters, and the solo traveler must pay the host for a portion of the room before turning up at the hotel.
The Travel Planner
Launched just a few weeks ago, Trekkel claims to be the first travel recommendation engine and personal itinerary planner to meld the best of crowd-sourced ratings, curated content and friends’ comments into one space. The site experienced a few kinks in the system at the start, but it is now functional for travel planning in 15 North American cities, with a goal of expanding into Europe in the coming months. All you need to do is pick your destination, rate the elements of travel you find most important and wait for Trekkel to do the elbow work.
The Happy Hunter
Are you happy with your experience in the sky? Researchers at Euromonitor International said in a recent report that this question is of increasing importance to travelers who seek higher “happiness scores” on sites like Routehappy when booking a trip. The new startup helps passengers choose a flight based as much on its quality as its price by informing them of the airline and route that will best suit their specific needs. Happy scores go up with smile-inducing features like larger seats, nicer planes and better entertainment options.
The Last-Minute Savior
Travel may just be the most unpredictable of activities, and there’s nothing vacationers hate worse than a bit of fine print that doesn’t read their way. That’s where Roomer sweeps in to save the day. This new website acts as the “stub-hub” of the hotel industry, allowing travelers who are unable to use their hotel room to list the pad at a discounted price, thus giving spontaneous vacationers a chance to snag a last-minute deal. The site offers sellers a safe and effective solution that reduces the cost of canceling a room, while providing savvy travelers with steep discounts at some amazing properties. It’s a win-win all around.
The Group Organizer
Planning for a large group of people can be a nightmare no matter how you go about it, but the new website Flights With Friends hopes to make the process a touch less mind-boggling. Ideal for sporting events, family gatherings, student travel, conventions or weddings, groups can consolidate their “reply all” email chains, search more than 150 sites for airfares and hotels, graze the TripAdvisor reviews, chat, sort and vote on the best options before booking a trip with the Expedia Price Match Guarantee. For groups with different budgets and opinions, this is your go-to site to make order out of disorder.
The Hotel Time Machine
Have you ever purchased a hotel room online and then found yourself playing the “what if” game? What if you purchased too soon? What if the price was about to go down? What if you had only waited one more week? Now, hotel search engine startup The Suitest has introduced a groundbreaking prediction feature that it’s calling a veritable “Hotel Time Machine.” Launched in August by a former quantitative finance analyst at Goldman Sachs, The Suitest uses the same event-modeling techniques that hedge funds use to determine whether a mortgage-backed security will default. The result is the type of complex price forecasting of hotels that travelers previously only found on airfare sites like Kayak or Bing Travel.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...