Trax metacrawler launches with First Class Frenzy upgrade game

The newest metacrawler in town, Trax, is wooing users with added incentive to abandon their old Kayaking ways: upgrades. The travel search engine, which is undoubtedly scrapping for market share, just launched First Class Frenzy, an online trivia game where you can answer a host of questions and virtually “move up to first class.” Winners of the online game will be entered in a drawing to win an upgrade on their next flight.

“What sort of upgrade” you ask? According to Trax knower of things Ani Custer, winners will receive one, one way, domestic upgrade good for a year on a major US carrier. One winner will be selected every month, starting on July 16th. Fair enough. If you’re not traveling on the carrier that Trax selects, you can always give away the certificate.

As far as how Trax performs as a search engine, the site has real promise. I just ran a comparison search from DTW – CDG for a week in July and Trax found a fare $75 lower (via than Kayak did. I’ll be sure to include it in my battery of engines next time I run a real search.

New travel site offers comprehensive deals and user-friendly innovation

Launched just a few days ago,, the newest travel site whose crew brought SideStep to the world wide web, is hoping to bring fresh and creative deals, offers and sales for the flexible traveler. Voyij fills a void on the web that people want: the best bargains for travel. Users can explore and discover travel sales they never knew existed, independent of origin, destination, or dates. Voyij was developed to bring the “best of the best travel bargains” to users in the easiest, most time-efficient way.

Here’s how Voyij works: Simply enter where you are and Voyij will present the most comprehensive list of travel deals on the web at any given time. Not every destination or date is always on sale every day, but Voyij allows you to find what is on sale at the time you search. In the process, you can explore other, new travel possibilities from a variety of other places. It’s similar to Kayak, but offers more field options to get the kind of results you’re looking for.

In addition to finding new and unexpected travel possibilities, you can opt to select by criteria. Voyij provides complete filtering for what is important to each individual person, including travel dates, accommodation ratings, location, activities, price, and more. It is not uncommon for travelers to visit over a dozen sites before finding just the right travel deal to fit their travel needs.

Voyij does all the navigating for you. All you have to do is enter in your travel criteria. From one central hub, Voyij searches the web’s deals and sales to offer exclusive last-minute specials and promotional rates to bring its users the widest selection of offers from any one site.

I’m always looking for the cheapest fares from Honolulu to the mainland, and now I can find out when I can go that will provide the best deal rather than searching for arbitrary dates and destinations. It might take a little getting used to initially, but Voyij definitely has the potential to make travel that much cheaper, easier and more hassle-free.

Track your city’s searches with Kayak Insight

Kayak has been tinkering with their search engine in the past few weeks (you may have noticed that they started publishing AA fares again) and just today unveiled some of the tweaks that they made.

The most interesting one I found was Kayak Insight. The tool basically takes your departure city and tells you what cities people are searching for as their search is made. I showed up and plugged in Detroit, and up popped Fort Lauderdale, $233. Pause. Then up popped Hawaii, $600. The map continues to populate like this as you browse around in a few tabs, then when you come back in a few minutes it’s got a huge map of where people are planning trips all over the world.

Cool trick, but what is it good for? Well, for Kayak, it’s a good instructional tool to tell people where they can go for how much. I can get to New Orleans next weekend for $150? Sweet! Salt Lake for $100? Rad! It’s also a fun little app to figure out just what the heck people are thinking in planning their vacation.

Watching Detroit for half hour, (I didn’t watch it the entire time. Really. I have friends.) what was the most searched region? Florida, duh. It’s cold up here.

If I were Kayak, I would collect this data over time and sell it to tourism boards as a marker of how much interest travelers have in a city. Or perhaps they’re already doing this……

Check out your own home city at

Kayak updates search engine with “Weekend” function

Kayak updated its search engine last week with a new “Weekend” feature that I’ve been tinkering around with for the last couple of days. It’s basically a modification to their canonical search routine that lets you make your search solely over any weekend period instead of nailed down to specific dates.

For example, if you know you want to go to Boston to see a friend some time this summer, you can select the weekend function, choose July, departing Friday, returning Monday and get queries for all weekends in July. The results will automatically give you the lowest price on the market, but if you want to exclude certain weekends you can do this on the left task bar.

In my case, the most useful aspect of this feature is for the “getaway” factor. Once in a while I get the itch to just get out of town next weekend and run a broad search across many cities over many dates. Now I can just run quick searches by changing the destination city and rerunning the query. Now if they had space for ambiguity in the destination and the dates (ie, I want to go anywhere, any weekend in August), that would be keen. I’m wondering if that query is too complicated for Kayak to handle though.