Yapta’s CEO, Tom Romary, has been selected as a panelist for the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference taking place at the Marriott in San Francisco on Feb. 25-27. Tom will be part of the online travel panel slated for Fri., Feb. 27th at 11 AM PT. If you’re in the Bay Area, come say hello. It’s going to be 3 days packed with approximately 150 tech (Apple, Microsoft, RIMM, etc.) and Internet (Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, etc.) companies presenting to about 800 institutional investors.
One of the challenges with planning travel is the volume of changes to airline schedules. With the price of fuel rising this year and a turbulent market, airlines have been cutting flights and rearranging their schedules to cut costs. To get a sense of the scope of the changes check here -and to get a sense of how it impacts fliers you can read this article.
When an airline changes its schedule travelers might find changes to one or more of the legs of their trip. The changes can range from minor time changes all the way to flight cancellations. Yapta customers can get hit by schedule changes like everyone who flies. If the flight change is serious enough you might find your flight labeled with the dreaded “untrackable“on Yapta. We hate seeing this word on our web site as much as you do because it means that the itinerary you saved has changed in a way that we can no longer track. To help you out, we are starting a new program this week to help you adapt to flight schedule changes. If you are tracking a purchased ticket that has gone “untrackable” we are going to use your confirmation number to get the updated information so we can continue price tracking. If you have not purchased your ticket yet, we are going to use your preferences tofind a few flights that match your original as closely as possible for tracking and send an e-mail letting you know about them. Of course, we can only e-mail you if you have confirmed your e-mail address with us.
As an aside, when talking about this internally we refer tountrackable trips as “bad trips“, and yes, we get that this has lots of connotations.
Today Yapta.com announced the “Track-A-Flight Sweepstakes” where anyone can win one of 20 prizes, including a $500 gift card to Marriott, a 1-year Clear Pass, the fast pass for airport security, or an Airport Lounge Day Pass, which provides access to over 500 airport VIP lounges across the world. Becoming eligible for the Sweepstakes is easy. All you have to do is visit Yapta.com during the month of October and track the airfare on any flight and Yapta will present you with the opportunity to participate. You can increase your chances of winning by tracking up to 25 flights anytime between 10/1/08 and 10/31/08 to receive the maximum 25 entries into the sweepstakes.
To access the rules & registration, visit: http://www.yapta.com/trackaflightsweepstakes/.
All of the great comparison shopping and price tracking functionality that’s been available for Internet Explorer users is now available for all you Firefoxies out there.
The Firefox add-on currently works on the following airline websites:
We’ll be adding more airlines soon, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, Firefox users can still track prices for flights on other major domestic carriers by entering the flight information here. Or, if you’ve already purchased a ticket, track for vouchers or refunds by entering your confirmation code or just forward your confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shoutout to Brian King and Briks software for their help with the Firefox add-on!
Yapta’s Firefox add-on has already received some great reviews:
Thanks to all of you who wrote in asking for a Firefox version of Yapta, and please, keep the feedback coming: email@example.com. We love nothing more than building features that our users request!
A recent article in The New York Times spotlighted some new research from well-respected travel analysts at PhoCusWright and Forrester Research revealing that the online travel industry is losing customers.
‘This is a wake-up call for the industry,’ said Henry Harteveldt, Forrester’s online travel analyst. ‘Customers are tired of spending two or three hours trying to find the airline or hotel or vacation package that meets their needs…’”
It’s no surprise that travelers are buying less online: it’s a real burden to have to keep checking prices on multiple travel sites, over and over, in search of the best itineraries at the best prices. It not only takes a ton of time, but often results in people missing out when seats become available or when fares drop.
Harteveldt also highlighted some major gaps still looming in the online travel planning process:
“Nowhere can you say, ‘I have this amount of money to spend on a trip. These are my interests. This is where I live. Show me my options,’” he said. “Whereas online retailers have done a much better job of improving the shopping experience in recent years, the travel industry has been standing still.”
Does anyone remember when travel agents actually called you to tell you that the price dropped? Yapta’s aim is to be your personal travel assistant. You pick the exact itineraries that work for you (your “interests”). We let you know when the price drops into your specified range, and send you to the airline websites to buy your ticket.
We send you to the airline websites to buy tickets because they have the most customer friendly policies:
Having built-in price protection is one of the big benefits of buying directly from airline websites. The big online agencies, however, don’t guarantee airfare beyond 24 hours and won’t issue you a travel credit if the price drops. Because of this, we’ve decided to re-tune Yapta’s “buy it now” links and “trip tagging” links to only include airline websites. The “big travel sites” need to stop acting like the “big banks” which earned a reputation for dinging their consumers with countless fees. We’re now challenging these companies to go back to their roots, and step up to re-focus on becoming customer friendly. It’s possible the mega online agencies will change their stance on this, but until they do, it’s really not in travelers’ best interest to send Yapta users to these sites to shop for and buy airline tickets.
As time goes on you’ll continue to see Yapta as an agent for change in an evolving industry. We will continue to improve the online shopping experience and look out for you at every turn.
Let us know what you think. Drop us a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
***Update: Priceline has announced this week that they will no longer charge a booking fee for airfare (except “name your own price” tickets). This is certainly a step in the right direction, but we’ll see if they move to match airline price guarantee policies, and see how the other online agencies respond.***
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-Your Yapta Wingman