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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‘The Content Omniverse’ – check out this great Infographic

I found this great infographic this evening, recently published by CopyPress.  Take a look, it really does represent social content online very well.

Infographic courtesy of CopyPress.

I joined about.me – take a look and claim your name before it goes!

I discovered about.me a few weeks ago and have been meaning to reserve my page.  Tonight, I was lucky enough to find it was still available.  So you can do the same, take a look at the video below which explains the idea behind the site.  This is not just another social network, about.me is a free service that lets you create a one-page website that’s all about you and your interests. Upload a photo, write a short bio, and add your favorite social networks to show the world the big picture of you.

This is a great way to put all your social networks together in one place so people can get to know you on your own personal page. Take a look!

Everything you need to know about Pinterest [Infographic]

I’m a big fan of Pinterest. You can check out (and of course follow) my Hotel Insight Pinterest Boards by clicking here.  But for those who want to know exactly how Pinterest works and if it’s a social channel that your hotel should be present in, take a look at this infographic, courtesy of TechCrunch.

World Wonders Project by Google [video]

Quite by accident I noticed the announcement from Google about their World Wonders Project and it really intrigued me.  I’ve been talking about it with some technology friends on Twitter today and it’s pulled all of our attention, so I found the promotional Google video about the project to share with you.  I bet you’ll take a look after you’ve seen this.  It really is Google doing what Google does best.

Google+ Local: Places you’ll love, from people you trust [video]

You may have seen Google announce Google+ Local today. In summary, it’s basically an ability to search for reviews and recommendations from your friends and connections in Google Plus.  Here’s Google’s video about the feature.  It got me thinking, what does this mean for hotels?  Well, another (and uncontrollable) channel for hotel reviews and user-generated content. Have a think…

 

Mark Zuckerberg rings the opening bell and signals the biggest shares sale in years

From Facebook’s HQ in California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg rang the opening bell for the Nasdaq this morning – signaling the most from high-profile share sale in years.