Another development in the still relatively short life of Silicon Valley darling Hipmunk with the unveiling of its hotel search service.
Due for release this week, Hipmunk says it is taking the spirit of the uniqueness of its existing flight search engine and trying to apply it to hotels.
Rather than the grid system used by its air search, hotel search is almost exclusively map-based and initially comes across as a familiar hotels-plotted-on-map interface.
Results are listed in the left-hand navigation and also on the map in the larger window. In a wider view hotels are grouped together until the user zooms in closer.
The so-called Hipmunk-ness of its hotel search comes in a number of ways:
- Search results can be displayed by an "ecstasy" rating (as opposed to its "agony" search for flights), combining the best by price, amenities and user reviews.
- The map can be skinned with a number of layers, indicating via heat map-style colours the concentration of shopping, nightlife, things to do, etc.
The layers are created using a combination of in-house technology and data from Wikipedia
. Reviews are taken from Yelp.
Hotel data is provided by a number of providers including HotelsCombined, Orbitz and GetARoom.
Co-founder Adam Goldstein says vacation rental properties will be added into the same stream as search results shortly, courtesy of a feed from AirBNB.
Although the site is still aimed at US travellers, hotel search widens the travel options for visitors immediately, Goldstein says. Additional currencies beyond the existing dollars are expected to be added in the coming months.
The unveiling of hotel search comes six months after the high profile launch of its air search product (boosted from Orbitz affiliate model to full QPX integration through ITA Software in November). The company's first smartphone application launched last week for the iPhone.
NB: TLabs Showcase - Hipmunk