Stuff That futurE shouLd brinG (STELG) #2 : Real holiday price comparison sites

You want holidays to be easy, relaxing and fun. But sometimes the way to book a holiday can be anything but! I just finished booking one. When i started off on the process, i figured it will be an easy task . Simply give your dates to a price comparison site, who thanks to millions of dollars of investments & funding poured into them, will do the leg work and get you the best possible deal. This expectation is not unwarranted after all. TV, newspapers & the web are teeming with their ads, all screaming & promising you the moon.

The first one I used (the number 1 as per their claim) took my request and promised me the proverbial moon, complete with a picture of pretty airhostess that you could stare at, while the site worked its magic. A second later, 12 different pop-ups opened across my screen, each one of them for the other websites that it was comparing the prices from. It was a virtual explosion of all snazzy flashing pop-ups, deals, free flights, dirt cheap rooms in the best luxury hotels, free car rentals et all. It was almost like that pretty airhostesss had spilled the nice gin & tonic that you were expecting to be served, all over your face and had suddenly revealed her true form, which is actually a three-headed vampire ant queen . Now wait a minute – I asked for you, the great commercial price leach &  provider of solace to us digital deal seekers, to give me a solution; not 12 more questions in response to my query. I am not a travel agent, who is trained to expertly seek out the lowest price from a jumble of different price & travel options shown in 12 different formats and currencies. By the time I located an itinerary that looked good to me and proceeded to do the booking, suddenly the price jumped up 20% …. hmm interesting ploy.

So one STELG that i would love to see is REAL price comparison sites for holidays. I am almost making it sound like that I am perpetually booking holidays. I would like to but as life would have it – I can’t. But when I try to book one, it ought to be easy.  Here is a possible list of features I would like to see :

  • Get a real price, not an ‘starting from’ advertised price, which is more like a trapdoor trying to lure you in. Do what you have to do, even if that means employing quantum physics principles, or getting Harry Potter to wave his magic wand to get the user out of the deathly hallows of continuous back & forth searching
  • Look for options. One simple example could be locations. For instance, I was looking for a holiday in southern Turkey. I have never been there before and i only know of a couple of places. Get me options, you have a huge database of possible holiday locations. Use the variables that i have just fed in, which should give you a treasure trove of information on what kind of place i am expecting, what i might be looking for etc.
  • Realize that I can wait. Yes, in today’s internet world speed is king. Google has perfected the art of displaying results as you type. Most people really cannot fathom the difference between 0.0067 seconds or 0.1 seconds to complete the search. If a few milliseconds can get you more breathing time to cook up a better result, please do it. It’s good to slow down once in a while
  • Don’t up sell for the sake of it. Does it really make sense to try to give me an option of a renting a private beach with its own helipad, when all i asked for a beach cottage with a sea view. Slightly different price ranges, don’t you think?
  • Add some form of intelligence, artificial or otherwise. I can fully appreciate that Europe to US is a long flight. When you can see that i am travelling with two kids, i am certainly not going to choose a flight whose flight time is 23 hours, where in 9 hrs is the flying time and 14 hrs is the waiting time in London, with the added pleasure of changing airports
  • And finally … no annoying pop-ups please. We are in 2011. Pop-ups were a neat technology trick when they were invented. Much like the digital watch with a built-in alarm. Time has moved on
Since we have to wait till an option like the ones described above comes along, I am going to use that time wisely by fixing a nice Gin & tonic. But i better do that myself and keep it away from that airhostess lurking behind the pop-ups, trying to spill my drink.

My Gin & tonic, hidden from the evil airhostess. Image via gintonicworld.com

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