I recently found myself wandering the halls of the eTravel Conference in Bucharest, perusing the displays set out by a host of Europe and Romania’s biggest industry players. The event attracts the cream of the crop from the travel and hospitality field to network and discuss current trends. One of the headline makers this time was Kaspar Engelheim Hove who was there to launch Momondo’s Romanian language site. Hove gave an impressive presentation which outlined what a forward-thinking force the Danish travel aggregator could be in years to come, so I decided to take a closer look.
Momondo were not entirely new to me. I’d heard the name, but in a crowded field that includes big hitters like SkyScanner, Expedia and Kayak, I had never got round to considering their service. At first glance, though, Momondo.com’s interface is slick to say the least and once you do a search it reveals some ingenious features under the hood.
Still entirely a Danish concern despite merging with British firm Cheapflights in 2011, Momondo began as a flight search vehicle back in 2006 but has since grown to include hotel and car rentals operating in 18 different languages. Their foray into publishing city guides (including a collaboration on their home city with world-renowned ‘best restaurant in the world’ Noma) is also symptomatic of a commitment to actually improving people’s travel experience rather than just funnelling them into their affiliated planes and hotels. What really caught my eye in Bucharest was Hove’s talk of Momondo’s Flight Insight Tool.
We’ve all logged on to book travel and had to put our faith in the mysterious alchemy of the flight aggregator. The alternative would be days and days of endless clicks on countless operators and still the feeling that the cheap and convenient itinerary we so desire is just outreach, hiding behind a confusing array of factors you fail to understand. Skyscanner et al have valiantly fought this war on our behalf and done a fine job but we are still at their mercy to some extent. This is where Momondo took up the baton.
Just fire your search into their system and you get an altogether enhanced version of the facts (and no pop-ups or multiple tabs springing open-yay!). The graph at the top of the screen signalling daily price fluctuations is just the beginning. Click on “Flight Insight” and a whole world of data meets your eyes. For instance, for my test trip from Copenhagen to Rome for Christmas, I can tell you, from analysis of more than 17 million fares, Easyjet on a Tuesday evening is my best bet. However, the incredible pie chart showing the weight of factors affecting my prices informs me that ‘seasonality’ is the biggest one so I might wish to stay at home if I was a Dane thinking of visiting the Vatican. Suffice to say, Momondo got me a 192 pound deal on Swiss Air, six pounds less than what SkyScanner came up with.
Now if you’re a travel buff like me then you’re probably already licking your lips and probably have another tab open right now plotting your favourite routes and marvelling at the results. I have yet to look into Momondo enough to determine how Flight Insight works. It may be muddying the waters even more, but I suspect not. It’s fast, searches private and charter routes for even more choice, and is unquestionably a move towards the ‘big data’ age that Internet sales promises to exploit even further in years to come. You’re probably still best off cross-checking before you book, but Momondo.com is simply fascinating as well as useful. Keep an eye on these guys- who knows what they’ll come up with next.