Following along from TripAdvisor's hotel meta search launch, TripAdvisor subsidiary SeatGuru has relaunched their website with a revamped look and flight planning tools.
Beyond the design tweaks, the story here lies squarely in the meta.
Meta search is becoming ever-more popular, with TripAdvisor's flight search product now baked into the core of SeatGuru. Users can not only search for flights right there alongside the seat maps, but can also take advantage of SeatGuru's new "G-Factor" functionality.
G-Factor rates flights according to comfort, with three main categories: "love it," "like it," or "live with it." Similar to Hipmunk's "agony" ranking, this feature allows specific-seat-seeking travelers the ability to gauge their comfort level alongside schedule, pricing and amenities.
User contributions are also being expanded, with users being able to both submit photos and comments. This provides SeatGuru users with a direct link to a particular seat, assuming that the community is engaged enough to provide said content.
Overall, this evolution makes complete sense for the SeatGuru brand, and points to the new reality of airplane travel - sometimes it really is about getting the best seat on the plane, and having a tool to help make that happen will provide value to a specific group of people.
There's also the opportunity to integrate more deeply with other TripAdvisor features, such as the TripFriends feature that allows the TripAdvisor community to connect with people who have been to a particular destination before. There could be a KLM-style Facebook social seating, which allows seats to be also selected according to social connections.
This would also follow along the trends towards thinking more about the actual flight experience, and not simply schedule or price, such as the various startups focused on this area of travel (read more here).
Seat reviews will be available directly in the booking results, ensuring that the site can still fulfill its core promise of finding the best seat on a plane. From SeatGuru, regarding seat selection:
Within flight search results on SeatGuru, the operating aircraft type is indicated and a direct link to SeatGuru's map is provided. The user is able to see the aircraft configuration and an overall description of the cabin.A user can learn of the amenities onboard, if the aircraft is a narrow or widebody and seats to look out for or to avoid. After the user lands on the online travel agency or airline to book, they are usually presented the option to choose a seat. The user can then confidently choose the best seat after having looked at SeatGuru's map and seeing which seats are available.Some airlines charge for seat selection or seats with extra legroom - SeatGuru's commentary can suggest if these seats are worth selecting.If a user cannot choose a seat at time of purchase from the travel agency or airline, they can refer to SeatGuru.com or mobile app at the time of online check-in for the best seats.