Though travel planning has increasingly moved completely away from paper-and-pen legwork and now takes place largely online, this does not necessarily mean that the process is always seamless. In fact, as getting ready for a trip has become consumer-driven, every logistical step – no matter how it has been planned – has to be taken into account by the traveler themselves. Travelers need not fret about this situation: if anything, this decade has seen unprecedented advances in websites and apps trying to make the process of planning travel easier, cheaper, and less stress-inducing than ever before.
Kayak: A Search Engine for Flights and Hotels
One of the most difficult parts of making travel arrangements used to be having to compare flight prices and itineraries across dozens of websites before finally making a choice. Even more frustratingly, these flight prices sometimes changed just moments after a ticket was purchased. Kayak has become a major player in the online travel market by collecting price and ticket data for flights (even for carriers like Southwest) in one convenient search format that allows for customers to easily compare their options. Additionally, Kayak will predict whether flight prices are likely to increase or decrease, thus giving travelers a sense of how urgently they must make a purchase.
TripIt: Bringing Order out of Chaos
Even if using a travel search engine like Kayak, making travel arrangements often takes place over multiple different websites. This multiplicity of sources means it is all too easy to forget about a certain leg of the trip or otherwise be unprepared. TripIt has found success online by combating this exact problem. Travelers can email any travel information to TripIt and see it converted into a centrally located, easy-to-read itinerary. TripIt also allows these itineraries to be shared, making it quite simple for large travel groups to all be on the same page from the beginning of the trip to its conclusion.
HearPlanet: Eyes Up
Though working through travel apps might make the planning process significantly more convenient, it can also lead to spending most of a trip with one’s nose practically pressed against a smartphone screen. The innovative company HearPlanet has identified this problem and attempted to solve it by making their collection of audio guidebooks available to travelers going to dozens of destinations. What makes HearPlanet more comprehensive than other audio guides is its potential for crowdsourced information: rather than being limited to traditional guidebook companies, locals or experienced travelers can add their own audio guide for those who want a more unique voice to be guiding them through their trip.
As with other sectors where technology companies have disrupted traditional business methods, travel planning has seen methods that were commonplace just a few years ago become quaint almost overnight. The common thread of the companies listed above is not simply their success online and in app form, but their attempts to transcend even the very confusion and disorganization that have been standard difficulties in travel planning for decades.