It’s easy to find the cheapest tickets for your vacation – Kayak has always been my weapon of choice – but what if you don’t even know where you want to go? Where is the ‘recommendation’ in travel? Where’s the Passive?
I recently got to meet former Tapulous founder Andrew Lacy to talk about his latest company, ZapTravel, which is positioning itself around cheap weekend travel packages. It’s amazing to know that I can travel just a few hours to Tunisia for the weekend, get transportation to and from the airport, and stay at a hotel for just 158€/person; however, what’s more amazing is the way they’re enabling travelers to learn about these offers.
When you first sign up for ZapTravel (it requires a log-in to use), you are presented with a Google-like homepage, where you can simply type “Man, I’d love to go to Germany in May” or “Tell me about awesome deals going to the UK from Paris” – it’s very human. The site is being designed by Olivier Desmoulin, one of the more notable French UX Designers in the startup scene.
Want to iChat with a TravelAgent? Now you Can!
What I thought was even more cool is that ZapTravel has their own Travel Agents in the form of iChat bots that you can add to your chat application, and who can have a conversation about travel with you. Sitting at work on a Thursday morning wishing you could just get out of town this weekend? Why not ask about the best deals from your city this weekend?
This cool hack makes searching for travel options much more accessible, and it’s not about knowing where you want to go, it’s about talking about traveling. The guys tell me there are a few funny easter eggs build into the travel agents – for example, while messing around, I typed in “I’d like to have sex in Spain,” and the engine returned a list of nightclubs and after hours events going on in Spain.
Searching for the best price when you know where you’re going will always be the same – Kayak/price comparison – but with low-cost airlines, it’s not just about making your required flights cheaper, it’s about unlocking new travel possibilities. If ZapTravel tells me one flat cost to cover all my expenses, it’s easy for me to decide whether it’s worth it – no more logistics, no more hidden taxi/hotel/time fees to plan a weekend away with friends or family.