Crowdsourcing the lowest fare

by on October 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm in Economics, Games, Travel | Permalink

Travelers with complex travel plans may have noticed, however, that the search results aren’t necessarily consistent. This has created a business opportunity for Flightfox, a start-up company based in Mountain View, Calif., which uses a contest format to come up with the best fare that the crowd — all Flightfox-approved users — can find.

A traveler goes to Flightfox.com and sets up a competition, supplying information about the desired itinerary and clarifying a few preferences, like a willingness to “fly on any airline to save money” or a tolerance of “long layovers to save money.” Once Flightfox posts the contest, the crowd is invited to go to work and submit fares.

The contest runs three days, and the winner, the person who finds the lowest fare, gets 75 percent of the finder’s fee that the traveler pays Flightfox when setting up the competition. Flightfox says fees depend on the complexity of the itinerary; many current contests have fees in the $34-to-$59 range.

Here is more, and for the pointer I thank @ArikSharon.

axa October 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm

this is SO true. expedia, travelocity, orbitz……..somehow hide the best prices when you search. airlines should pay to appear on the top results.

just found an big airline that I never heard of before on these sites that “promise” the best price: airberlin. economy transatlantic flights and they never appear on the top results.

Daniel October 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

The biggest flaw here is that fares change multiple times per day so a fare that one participant finds today may not be available for purchase 3 days later.

John October 4, 2012 at 11:54 pm

]I haven’t seen much feedback from users.

My experience was extremely positive.
+You can really save BIG. I got 36% off of the Expedia list price and it cost me peanuts compared to the actual ticket price.
+The expert answered all my questions, even after they got my money. He was timely, professional, etc.
+The day my contest ended, the guy who found my flight had the lowest price on a quarter of the contests that I read. Here is his link: http://www.flightfox.com?referral=7584 If you use this link and go though him, he automatically enters your contest. I’d guess the situation is similar with other experts.

But there were drawbacks.
+/-How well it goes depends on which experts look at your flights. You see the same names consistently winning contests, but there is no way to message them or to ask them for help.
-You can’t interact with people outside your own contest. There was no way for me to ask about flights being proposed in other contests that were similar to what I wanted.
-It’s a waste if you just need a simple domestic flight and know how to search for them.
-There is a guaranteed refund if it doesn’t work, but you can still lose a lot of money. By the time the contest ends, prices may have risen substantially.

Scott Saliency October 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

A tool for sophisticated users. If myopic consumers start using it on mass sophisticated users will then develop a “more sophisticated” (difficult to use) tool.

Rose October 11, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Why isn’t this done for gasoline?

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