Hipmunk has long been a bastion of simplicity — one interface that grids out the various flight options for a specific flight search.
Now, the brand is looking for new ways to invigorate its approach to the customer, announcing today a more complete set of tools that allow users to save searches in the trip planning phase.
At launch, this grid was a revolutionary way to view and search for flights. There was a tab option if you wanted to toggle between multiple searches, but other than that there was no further functionality to aid trip research.
Now Hipmunk will allow users to name trips and save them for later, including flights, hotels and car rentals. This is a move into full-fledged OTA or mature meta territory, as it offers ongoing engagement opportunities that lead to a longer-term relationship with searchers.
Other parts of the new planning feature set include favorites and the ability to search regardless of platform. The saved trips will be available on mobile, tablet and desktop. A standard share functionality is also included for group travel planning and other situations requiring sharing with others.
This is a smart move, as the OTA/meta field becomes more crowded and entrenched players investing millions in proprietary technologies that differentiate from competitors. Without investing in further features or cross-device search capabilities, Hipmunk was at risk of being left behind.
For example, Expedia's Scratchpad aims to bring real-time tracking to previous searches for travelers, while also allowing them to curate and cull the list of potential places to stay and flights to take. This makes the site more sticky and leads to differentiation through technology and not inventory — an essential move in a commoditized world where there is just not that much inventory difference anymore.
Hipmunk has been ramping up its headcount recently, nearly doubling its full time employee count to 71 since January 2014. The company will end the year with about 85, indicating some likely investments ahead in user experience and product in general.
Here's a short video describing Hipmunk's new offering.