Hipmunk makes travel planning easier with integrated calendar technology

hipmunkIn recent months and years, flight search technology has greatly improved (hello, Google Flights!), but it still isn’t a mind reader.

Launching today, travel site Hipmunk’s new Google Calendar integration aims to make travel planning even easier. The site has launched an upgrade that integrates your Google calendar directly into the travel-planning process, meaning that you’ll automatically be looking for flights that automatically leave after your night grad school class and get you back in town in time for that important business meeting on Monday.

It’s a great idea – the idea of personalizing and customizing the search experience has greatly changed both the search landscape and traveler behavior in recent years – and the idea of being able to “sync” or share multiple calendars makes planning group trips much easier.

We can easily see the application – it would make it much easier to plan that girlfriend getaway, coordinate with a significant other’s work schedule, or even plan a last-minute meeting out of town that doesn’t interfere with other work events.

The program can even plot multiple destinations on a map and help you select a hotel that’s convenient to your needs – something we’ve seen on sites like Trippy and loved.

You can get live help via a chat feature, search by price, duration, departure, arrival and airline and also see the amount of layover time and which airport you’ll be connecting through, all in one easy spreadsheet-like feature. There’s also a funny “agony” button that allows you to see similar flights that are “worse than this one.” It’s also easy to use “flex” features that allow you to search within a one- to three-day window. You can’t book through the site, but you can easily click to book directly through the airline, with your search parameters already inputted into the query – you’re deposited directly into the payment screen.
On the hotel front, the site is fairly easy to negotiate, allowing you to search on a map, narrow according to attractions nearby, features and even hotel chain. You can also access the service via iPhone or iPad, which makes booking travel on-the-go even easier.

Limitations? The Hipmunk program only works with Google Calendar – meaning that someone like us, who uses Outlook, won’t be helped. If you haven’t tagged an event correctly – like a friend’s birthday that you’ve accidentally scheduled as a full day event, for example – the site won’t show your time as available. It also requires that you “share” your calendar with friends / colleagues to use it, meaning we’ll have to change “bikini wax” to “important medical appointment” on our schedules…

Still, the app and new integration are on the way to helping us plan our travel. And we’ll take anything that makes our lives easier.