Ah, the problems budget travelers used to have. Hours on the phone with the airlines trying to pin down the cheapest fare. A bargain B&B that looked great in the brochure – if only there were a way to access feedback from previous guests. I wish there was a way to tell the world in 140 characters or less that I made it to the top of this Mayan temple!
How quaint. But there are still plenty of problems out there, just waiting to ensnare the traveler. Below are five, along with relatively new Web sites that are trying to solve them. Note: “trying.” None of them work perfectly and some have a long way to go before they become household names. But they all get an A for ingenuity.
1) Business travelers on expense accounts pay the same airfares as penny-pinching leisure travelers.
It’s that old economics problem: one group of consumers would pay more than another – if only companies could create separate markets. Airlines have made attempts (by creating business class, for example), but for the most part, business and leisure travelers are lumped together. The booking site GetGoing has a clever solution for flexible travelers called “Pick Two, Get One.” It is similar to a normal booking site, with one major catch: customers must select two flights – to different cities – and reserve with a credit card before finding out where they’re heading. The idea is that business travelers, presumably with appointments scheduled, can’t leave to chance whether they’ll be landing in Istanbul or Beijing.
Of course, not every leisure traveler can either, but for the more flexible ones, the savings are significant. To test it, I entered dates for a weeklong European getaway from New York in June. Given a choice of 20 major cities, I picked Venice and Athens, and for each got a long list of flight options and prices, with airline names hidden. (I could have also chosen more…