Is Hipmunk one of the cleverest online travel companies in the world?

Yes… I think they could well be.  If they are not, they certainly will be very soon.  What do I mean by clever?  Well I talk a lot and openly criticise a lot of travel brands selling online travel in very boring and unhelpful ways.  Travel should be passionate, that’s what I believe in any case.  Travel shopping should be inspirational, fun and easy.  Choosing the perfect hotel for example should be a pleasurable experience, after all, it’s going to be the place you kick back and relax and enjoy your time.  But more often that not, I find OTA’s all offering the same shopping experience – enter a city, date and duration and pick a hotel from a list of 200 options.  This is not a shopping experience.  This is not helpful.  This is not enjoyable.  Most importantly, this zaps the life out of me when I should be inspired and happy that I’m booking my hotel of trip.

Hipmunk is a remarkable new travel search site that aims to take the agony out of travel planning.  Their website is designed to help people who are overwhelmed with pages of irrelevant search results – something I find myself with every time I use an OTA – flight results are presented in a visual “timeline” that allows people to select the best flight for them at a glance, and hotel results are shown on a map so that people can view where in a destination they will be staying and the landmarks near them.  Hipmunk also have a business travel planning service in beta which could revolutionise the self booking tool approach.  Imagine having your search results embedded over a copy of your Outlook calendar – pretty cool, hu?

“At Hipmunk, we want to make your experience a lot better and put the fun back into travel planning”.

The following video will gives a great overview:

So why am I writing about Hipmunk?  Simply because they are different.  Because they have opened their eyes and not just copied the masses – innovation springs to mind.  They haven’t looked at travel and joined the thousands on online travel agencies and tried to sell flights and hotels as quickly as possible, simply plugging in content and forgetting user experience.  They have looked at people’s existing pain points and decided to make travel shopping fun.  From using price graph searches for air fares (so you can see where a price changes) to the great Google Map based hotel search with fully integrated TripAdvisor review scores and price banding, you will enjoy the shopping experience of using Hipmunk.  Check out the usability of the hotel search results – especially the “heat maps” function – instantly guiding a user to the right area of a city, for example landmarks, restaurants etc.

I really am impressed with the usability and true shopping experience of Hipmunk.  They have got search spot on.  Why do I want to go to an OTA and be overwhelmed with irrelevant search results?  I want to choose the results my self, and Hipmunk let me.  Why do I want to read glossy marketing text the hotels written?  I don’t – and Hipmunk how me the TripAdvisor Reviews instead.  The list goes on. I’m left excited by online travel search for the first time in a long time.  Excited about what they will bring next.  Check it out today.

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10 thoughts on “Is Hipmunk one of the cleverest online travel companies in the world?

  1. I forgot to mention, Hipmunk have transferred the great things they are doing in online travel search to mobile. How often have you been left uninspired by a very plain and boring hotel app? Try Hipmunk’s app – this is what mobile should be like.

  2. Very refreshing to see online travel being shaped to something the consumer wants. For too long online travel agencies like Expedia and Hotels.com have produced boring websites.

  3. I was with you when we first saw them present at the Travel Distribution Summit a few years back and its lovely to seem them gaining more and more growth from the start-up they once were. Nice post Simon.

    • Hi Chris, yes you’re right and I also saw them present at this years event. Some of the new technology they are producing is fantastic and I hope it spurs some of the big OTA’s into some re-development action.

      All – thanks for your comments.

  4. I love the fact that you are prepared to criticise the dominant OTA’s like Hotels.com and Booking.com – for too long their websites have functional been the same as in the early 90’s with a few colourful refreshes along the way. This is not what the consumer actually wants, more what they have come to expect and they are beginning not to even question it. The same can even be said of some of the large hotel companies. How dull is the Accor hotel search for example? For me, the standout website for a large chain is Starwood, who as you have quite rightly reported on previous posts, are really doing social very well too.
    Thanks for speaking out – look forward to hearing more from you.

    • Thank you for your comment Ryan. You are right, in fact I am more and more impressed with Starwood’s approach, particularly in social engagement. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising the big OTA’s here. They do what they do and are very successful. I just love to see innovation in technology. I am passionate about tech, the internet and hotels – put them all together and I want to see innovation and companies evolving what they do. This is why Hipmunk and Room 77 are so high on my list of innovative companies in this industry.
      Cheers, Simon

  5. I really like the way Hipmunk display their search results and looking forward to see what they do in the corporate world.

    • Thanks for the comment David. I know that you can already lay hotel search results and criteria over your Outlook calendar – that’s pretty cool in itself. I don’t know of any other company that can do this.

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