A new flight aggregator start-up website, CompareTravel, wants to make it easier for SA consumers to compare ticket prices for domestic flights on any of the number of low-cost airlines that have taken flight in the past decade.
The biggest selling points of the new system are that it’s possible to mix and match flights and airlines, and book and pay in one step, even if a booking includes multiple carriers.
CEO Marc Samouilhan says this ability to use multiple airlines is the site’s “unique beauty”. He says that “by using [the site] the cheapest option is always presented to you, even if it means two one-way flights on different airlines, and our system can combine these two flights into one booking, making it faster, more transparent and easier to save money.”
Samouilhan previously worked in online poker in the UK. When he returned to SA he wanted to continue working on the Web. He looked into various physical delivery-based services where he felt there might be a gap.
“I considered flowers, but NetFlorist really owns that market. My next thought was travel, particularly as there’s no physical delivery channel necessary.”
CompareTravel’s partners, international travel aggregators Amadeus and Travel Fusion, supply the booking back-end for the site. Samouilhan says that there are “100 to 150 people signing up for our e-mails each day, which is a figure we’re quite happy with so far. We advise our customers of each airline’s specials through our newsletter, even though we don’t see revenue from them. We also advertise the specials on the site because I think the only way we’re going to break into the market is by offering our customers the best deal, even if we don’t see anything off that deal.”
Samouilhan says that although there are already competitor sites like Travelstart, CompareTravel is hoping that its mix-and-match approach proves its differentiating attribute. “By allowing users to make one booking, even if they’re flying out on, say, Kulula and back on Mango, they can save anything between R50 and R400. We want to make consumers their own travel agents.”
CompareTravel also offers packaged holidays and the ability to book rental cars through either Europcar or Tempest and plans to expand its value-added services in months to come. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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