Hipmunk – Travel Search

Hipmunk - plan your travelHipmunk.com is a travel search site that aims to make travel planning as friendly and intuitively as possible. The company aimed initially to provide an awesome experience when buying airline tickets. Later, Hipmunk was extended to hotel search. To make the search as friendly as possible, Hipmunk uses ‘agony’ (for flights) and ‘ecstasy’ (for hotels) to combine price, inconveniences and ratings into an unique rank metric that users can sort by in order to select the most optimum travel plan.

Hipmunk innovates in other areas as well: flights are presented using friendly bars that take small screen space to render, which makes it easy to visualize and compare them. Flights that depart earlier, arrive later and cost more than better alternatives are hidden by default from the results.

The company was founded in 2010 by Adam Goldstein and Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman as part of the Y Combinator‘s Summer 2010 class. In an Inc. interview, Adam explained how he came up with the domain name: his girlfriend suggested to start looking for names of small and cute animals, because then they’ll be able to get a good logo. He found hipmunk.com listed at auction and got the domain in the end for $70.

The site has hundreds of thousands of unique monthly visitors. To enhance this growth, the company hired 4 marketing positions at the beginning of 2012. The revenue comes primarily from affiliate deals with travel agencies, hotel and airline companies. As for the future, Hipmunk may look into an ad-supported model, but “that’s not in the cards just yet” according to the company’s press whisperer. Especially not inside the mobile apps that Hipmunk launched for the iOS and Android platforms.

Matrix by ITA Software – Cheap Online Flights

Matrix - ITA Software

Matrix, an online app produced by ITA Software, is a search tool designed to find specific days within a 30-day window when the most affordable airplane tickets for a specific destination are available. One caveat is that the site currently functions exclusively as a search tool – in order to purchase the tickets, users must write down the dates and then go to a site like Orbitz to make the purchase.

The problem solved by this tool is pretty painful for anybody that has tried in the past to purchase airplane tickets online. Finding the days within a given month when the most convenient flights are available is pretty difficult: most sites only offer a +/- 3 days search option, or they lack the ability to search across the entire spectrum of available tickets.

ITA Software has been developed traditionally as a software vendor providing connectivity services between airlines and ticket selling sites, therefore it has one of the most comprehensive sets of data on airplane tickets and their prices. Powerful algorithms are then able to quickly process this data in order to identify the lowest cost for a given journey in each day of a one-month interval.

Certain scientists from the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory founded the company in 1996. In January 2006, 10 years after being established, it managed to receive $100 millions in venture capital money. At the beginning of July 2010 the company announced an agreement of being acquired by Google for $700 millions, and almost one year later, on April 2011, the US Department of Justice approved the buyout. Recently the company opened its official blog.

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