The Crowd Delivers the Best Holiday Fares

The holidays are upon us. Hopefully, you’re happily ensconced in a friends and family image reminiscent of a Grant Wood painting. Hopefully your holidays won’t include scenes of intense and stressful holiday travel. But if you’ve got to cross one coast to another this season (like I do) or farther (thank goodness, I don’t) it would be nice if the cost of your ticket wasn’t a bank-breaker.

I recently learned about a crowd-powered service called FlightFox (another California-based crowd start-up). It’s a fascinating proposition. Although search programs like Expedia and Kayak, etc can provide typical flight costs, FlightFox turns itinerary-scouting over to the crowd using a rewards-based system. This is how it works:

1. An individual launches a “contest” by entering in their travel details and preferences as well as a finder’s fee.
2. Travel experts submit possible itineraries and the traveler asks questions of the experts as the options come in.
3. When the best fee is discovered, the traveler buys (regardless of whether the 3-day contest has concluded)

It’s compelling to see how much consumers stand to save. A recent contest showed an individual who saved nearly $1,500 on their flight between Taiwan and Denmark. What’s great about it is that it allows travelers to make more complex decisions: weighing different airports, longer or shorter layovers, flight programs and more – for now humans are still capable of handling complex and flexible data sets better than a formula in this case.

It is still in its early stages, but already FlightFox is doing well and is an option I will consider during my next travel planning chore. What do you think of FlightFox? How long will it take for automation to catch up to the crowd?

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