It is the El Dorado of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to provide the fullest spectrum of travel options when users search from point A to point B. Having more data than the competition allows passengers to be confident that they’re getting the lowest price, and when they have that feeling then they keep their business in one place. That’s why metacrawlers like Kayak and Mobissimo have enjoyed so much praise in the community.
Hipmunk is now adding a new layer to the passenger travel game by integrating Amtrak fares along side their already-powerful airfare engine. This means that for itineraries like those along the east coast (where Amtrak service is strong), train tickets and prices will appear in parallel to those provided by airline carriers. The reflected prices and times should hopefully give passengers greater flexibility and pricing power when considering routes.
The inclusion of Amtrak itineraries into general travel search is a first in the OTA industry, and highlights Hipmunk’s visionary approach to displaying the best fare content for its users.
As far as integration, train fares, amenities and connecting data will be displayed next to the normal airline itineraries, and when a user clicks through, an Amtrak page will be deep-linked with preloaded dates and times.
Don’t count on booking flights and train tickets under one seamless reservation though. As Adam Goldberg, CEO of Hipmunk tells us:
“Users can’t combine air and train into a single ticket because it’s not supported by any of our partners’ ticketing systems. If this becomes possible in the future, we’ll definitely explore it. In the meantime, the best bet is to do two one-way bookings.”
Nevertheless, this new upgrade engine is a welcome approach to travel booking, a breath of fresh air sorely needed in the OTA industry. Team Hipmunk: you continue to amaze us.
[Update, 0948EST, Sept 8, 2001: Kevin May from Tnooz points out that Momondo has been hosting Amtrak fares for more than a year. That would make Hipmunk the second OTA to provide combined airfare and train booking.]