Independent travel bookers Bootsnall have released their latest product targeted to the indie travel community: a multi-point flight planning tool called Indie.
Claiming to be the "world's first multi-country flight finder," the tool promises to help travelers book multi-stop RTW flights in a straightforward, less complicated and digitally native way.
The tool's accuracy and instant pricing is one of the core value propositions, as there is no other place online to get instant pricing and book completely 100% online via a visual and adaptable interface.
Aspiring RTWers must create an account to search, and then can place any number of destinations into the planner. The tool even provides for overland travel, allowing users to fly into one point and travel overland to a different departure point - a very common aspect of long-term RTW trips.
Bootsnall has a relationship with an undisclosed OTA, where the fares are pulled from over 500 airlines and compiled into individual itineraries. As time goes on, they will also be accumulating historical data to better inform users' searches.
Indie can provide instant pricing that can be manipulated in real-time to see how different routes affect price. Being able to play around with a proposed itinerary to see what mix of destinations, flights, and overlands will provide the best bang for the buck is most certainly going to be one of the most visceral appeals of this tool.
After choosing an itinerary that suits, users will be brought to the Lowest Price Option that lays out the arrival/destination airports, the departure/arrival times, the number of stops, the airline and both each flight's travel time and the overall travel time.
Users can then browse other options to find a time/airline mix that works best for them, and can book right there in the Web app after selecting their preferred itinerary.
Competitors like AirTreks, Roundtheworldflights.com and brick-and-mortar travel agents generally require turnaround time, as a submitted airfare quote request must be processed manually and compiled into a fully-fledged quote to be sent back to the customer.
When booking through a travel agent, users are limited to back-and-forth email exchanges and phone calls, which don't exactly provide the lightning quick turnaround that indie travelers of a certain mindset are used to.
Travelers looking to book directly with their preferred airline alliance are also often limited by mileage caps and total number of stops, as well as required to travel in one direction.
Nonetheless, multi-stop RTW tickets are complicated undertakings, and often benefit from the in-depth knowledge of travel agents who do this for a living.
Sean Keener, CEO of Bootsnall, spoke to Tnooz about how their latest creation differs from the traditional RTW flight booking experience.
What makes Indie different than other RTW planning tools?
Since we started working with other providers over the years, or recommending RTW multi-stop tickets, I always wondered why this couldn't be automated. You can buy everything else on the Internet, why not a multi-stop plane ticket?
It's not easy for us to do it. The problem is to get instant pricing - it just does not exist out there. You have a few places that you can get estimates, but they are not real pricing.
I guess you could say we are like an OTA representation of this sort of fare. We're focused on a very small part of the market compared to the others, but that's the market we specialize in.
Why did you decide to tackle multi-stop RTW flight booking?
We thought it would have been done by now!
We've been here for 15 years, and I've been wondering ever since why [RTW flights online] can't be solved. Overall, it took us about 2 years to fully figure it out. I thought starting about 2 years ago that it could be solved - and we're finally ready to share.
It feels really good to just put it out there and just say, "Hey we're doing this." We've had 40,000 searches just from our own traffic already!
The road map is to build more and more transparency and personalization into people's travel planning.
With 100% online booking, some might be concerned that they are going to lose the customer service advantages of booking an expensive long-term trip with a brick-and-mortar travel agent. How does online booking work in your case?
We have online chat, we can call you, you can call us. We don't do text messaging or telepathy yet! But the idea is to be there.
Folks are already used to waiting for a travel agent to get back to them after submitting a quote - since we've been a travel community that focuses on this type of problem, we know what all the questions are already. We've been listening to our community for over 15 years.
The user gets one completed itinerary back from us, with all the relevant PNRs. The itinerary is also available online on their user profile. Any changes and cancellations can go either through the appropriate airline or facilitated by our customer service staff at Bootsnall.
Indie travel, as defined by Bootsnall:
NB: Given some of the comments below, it is worth pointing out that BootsnAll previously had a partnership with Airtreks.