Flights With Friends: A Facebook and Kayak Love Child?
A vast array of travel sites populate the Internet, and platforms like Concur’s (NASDAQ:CNQR) Tripit and Kayak (NASDAQ:KYAK), now a part of Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), have changed the way people travel by making trip planning more social and booking reservations easier. But with numerous offerings for travel planning available and the industry trend leaning more heavily towards consolidation rather than start-ups, it appears there is little room for a new addition.
However, that has not stopped Flights With Friends, a San-Francisco start-up that launched on Friday, from finding a niche. The company believes that, in the early stages of travel planning, there is an opportunity: group trips.
In November of 2011, TechCrunch contributor Semil Shah put forth a thesis that outlined where growth would happen in the travel industry in upcoming years. “The real opportunities in social travel may lie closer to the top of the decision funnel, at the moment when a consumer discovers a new place he/she wants to travel to,” he wrote. So far, group trip planning has been a little explored area of the travel industry, but it can allow services, like Flights With Friends, to take advantage of the opportunity described by Shah…
Flights With Friends is where the social-networking capabilities of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and the travel-planning benefits of Kayak meet. It allows large groups to coordinate flights, places to stay, and activities without the confusion of endless emailing. Users can use private Facebook messages to communicate and pin flights and hotels they like. The start-up’s co-founder Kyle Killion told TechCrunch that the service will mainly attract travelers looking to book trips for weddings, family gatherings, and graduations.
However, there are downsides. Group travel may be a relatively new aspect of travel planning, but it is not without competition — Tripit, Triporama, and Groupize all offer group travel options. Furthermore, according to a recent survey conducted by Travel Weekly and TravelAge West, the majority of group travelers use agents to plan trips.
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