Searching, Thinking, Speaking Travel Apps No Match For Human Brain, Maybe

travel appsUnder the premise that searching for a flight online is a time-consuming and annoying task, travel buyers have been presented with a number of solutions. As new technology moves from the lab to the street, we see it being applied in helpful ways that do indeed make life easier and save us time.

Searching for flights online, buyers commonly visit multiple websites, see something they like on one, look for it on another, cross-check with the airline site and so on. When the time comes to pull the trigger and buy, those flights are often unavailable or priced differently. It can be a frustrating task but one that has to be done to find a flight that works with our travel plans – until now.

Say hello to Pintrips, a new online tool that allows business and leisure travelers to “pin” and see flights they’ve found across the web in one spot. Find something you like on a Pintrips-enabled website? Pin it with a click on the pin button next to each flight and Pintrips saves the find, constantly tracks price changes and enables easy comparison.

Stop right there and Pintrips is a win, consolidating all the good stuff we see while searching and putting it in one place. But going a step further, Pintrips pulls in the results of similar searches done by others in a crowd-sourcing sort of way that might eventually be worth considering.

Called “Public Pinning Boards,” this new feature provides “a fast track to pinning by providing the latest pins from the community as well as latest deals,” said Pintrips in a Wall Street Journal statement.

Pintrips does have its limits; capability is currently available only on American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, US Air and Virgin America airline sites and search sites Google, Expedia, Kayak and Orbitz. But new sites are being added every month and users can request sites too.

Easier yet, Cheapair has a new voice-activated flight search travel app.

Basically, we don’t have to lift a finger with this one to find an abundance of flight information. Using the new CheapAir app available for iPhone and iPad, say a request like, “Orlando to Los Angeles, May 5th to the 10th” or “L.A. to Vegas tomorrow coming back Sunday” and up pop the results – no form to fill out.

Still, finding the right flight can be much like looking for a needle in a haystack; there are just so many different options. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just use our brains to narrow down the results, find the perfect flight, priced right, and be done with it?

Applying the flavor of recent research at University of California, Berkeley, that day may come. Scientists have discovered that when we embark on a targeted search, like looking for a contact lens on a bathroom floor or a car key in a bed of gravel, that various visual and non-visual regions of the brain mobilize to track them down.

“Our results show that our brains are much more dynamic than previously thought, rapidly reallocating resources based on behavioral demands, and optimizing our performance by increasing the precision with which we can perform relevant tasks,” said Tolga Cukur, a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience at UC Berkeley in a RDMag article.

We look forward to more results from that research but know that the world of travel apps is constantly changing, as we see in this promotional video for the Travel Channel To Go app from 2008.


[Photo credit – Flickr user TZA]

Travel search to become personal, focused, nosy

travel searchTravel search engines come in a variety of sizes, shapes and brands all aiming to become our first choice when planning a trip. The ways in which we search for travel options today are very different from those we used only a few years ago, and likely, the ones we will use in the future. A new study, tapping the wants of the most connected travelers, says new technologies may create changes for our future travel planning methods.

“Today, we stand at the forefront of a technological evolution in travel that we refer to as Online Travel 3.0 which recognizes the power shift from suppliers to retailers and to end consumers,” says Stephane Durand, Director, Online & Leisure at Amadeus, a major provider of advanced technology solutions for the global travel and tourism industry.

An Amadeus-commissioned, global study identified the online shopping behavior and future motivations of trend-setting travelers, indicating younger, savvy consumers are mastering travel information more. While not representative of the mainstream consumer, they have the most sophisticated shopping needs and represent the early adopters whose current behaviors and preferences are leading indicators of consumer behavior in the future.

What do we want and are likely to see in the future?

Truly private sales:
Look for travel sellers to micro-target promotions to specific consumers offering products that are actually relevant for the buyer.

Cumulative intelligence:
Learning from our online behavior over time, programs will aggregate common patterns while micro-segmentation will help companies analyze behavior and deliver increasingly intelligent results.

Smart systems and virtual private assistants:
Devices will become smart and interconnected, while storing and analyzing consumer behavior information. The program will recognize and process inputs from sites visited and will act as an assistant on the consumer’s behalf.

The study, Empowering Inspiration was based on surveying the behavior of 4,638 travelers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, India, Russia and Brazil.


How to Plan Your Travel Online



Flickr photo by Danard Vincente