InstantPrice
471 days ago
 

Backpackers rejoice: The Holy Grail of multi-stop RTW flights is here?

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.

 
 
Nick Vivion

About the Writer :: Nick Vivion

Nick Vivion is a reporter for Tnooz, based in New Orleans, USA.

His passion for travel technology led him to travel around the world shooting travel videos for Current TV and Lonely Planet TV in 2006 and 2007.

He shot on Mini-DV, edited on a white MacBook, uploaded and shared online as he traveled. His moxie for travel video has resulted in over two million views on his YouTube partner channel.

In addition to travel, Nick co-founded of one of the web’s most talked about LGBT media sites, Unicorn Booty, and has gone "blog-to-brick" with a bricks-and-mortar restaurant called Booty's Street Food in New Orleans – serving street food from around the world.

 

Comments

  1. Psycho

    Including Rome2rio planning possibilities to overland part would be nice. As well as making an itinerary just from a list of cities.

     
    • Sean

      I love rome2rio. We’ve been checking them out the past few weeks. Neat stuff and good idea Pyscho!

       
  2. Nico

    “Competitors like AirTreks, Roundtheworldflights.com and brick-and-mortar travel agents generally require a 1-2 day turnaround, as a submitted airfare quote request must be processed manually and compiled into a fully-fledged quote to be sent back to the customer.”

    I hate to barge in but this is entirely untrue. AirTreks can handle any turnaround time the client desires. We routinely quote, compile, finalize and process bookings the same day, often directly after the inquiry arrives, and always to the client’s needs. To say that there’s some detrimental or unfavorable time lag because travel agents are involved is so ludicrous it seems like the past 20 years didn’t exist at all. I can’t think of one AirTreks client who has said their booking was not handled fast enough for their comfort. Our staff is entirely willing and able to handle any called-for time requirement, and willingly jump at the chance.

    And also,

    “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.”

    There’s so much wrong with this statement I don’t know where to begin. Are the people who are ready to spend $10,000 on a pair of RTW tickets really interested in a lightning quick turnaround? I don’t know of any. And who are you to say what mindset these people are used to? Historically speaking, back and forth emails and phone calls are exactly how big RTW ticket transactions are done, always. Can you imagine buying a car and not wanting a little insight about what’s going on with the process? I’m afraid a “lightning quick turnaround” is simply not a component of this process. And from what I know of the current culture, it won’t be for quite some time. There’s still little comfort in plopping credit card numbers into a website for something more complicated than say, an open jaw to Europe.

    I certainly have no problem with Tnooz lauding Bootsnall’s new tool, it’s an admirable accomplishment to be sure, but please do not assume that because there’s a new game in town the established players are somehow suddenly less credible, which is these couple paragraphs’ insinuation. If anything, automated ticket selling makes human-to-human contact more appealing.

    “Travelers are also often limited by mileage caps on alliances and total number of stops, as well as required to travel in one direction.”

    This is also totally untrue, at least for AirTreks. You’ve inappropriately correlated AirTreks’ product with the airline alliances’ and Tnooz readers should know this isn’t the case. There are no mileage caps, limits on the number of stops or the need to travel in one direct on an AirTreks ticket and to put this in the same paragraph is at best unfair and entirely incorrect.

    Again, I’m sorry to take away from the accomplishments of Bootsnall. I have no problem with reporting on their new software but it’s vital to be fair to the competitors in a nonbiased news article. Perhaps next time consider consulting your references before including them in an article.

     
    • Nick Vivion

      Nick Vivion

      Nico

      I appreciate your response, and it was not at all the intention to take away from anyone else’s accomplishments or time spent in the RTW flight planning space.

      From my perspective, I find that starting with a transparent source of information when planning a long-term trip has enormous appeal. Travel agencies are generally not open 24 hours a day, and being able to jump in and see what the price would be without talking to someone first is very appealing. I don’t always want to have person-to-person contact, especially as I begin to gather information about a trip and learn what is going to affect the price – even for a large ticket.

      I think many are reluctant to hop on the phone in the planning stages, and those who are used to booking everything online are also likely not going to all of a sudden prefer to book something over the phone. I buy the rest of my airline tickets online, why not this kind of fare as well?

      In my opinion, there are a certain subset of people that just do not want to talk to a person, regardless of how complicated something is. Please note this is not a broad stroke – I’m explicitly saying a “certain subset.”

      I will break up the paragraphs suggesting that Airtreks has limits on caps and direction; that was unclear, and, as you pointed out, was meant to be pointing to the airline alliances’ RTW products.

      N

       
      • Nico

        I appreciate the clarification, Nick. Much obliged.

        For the record, AirTreks has had TripPlanner since 1999, our legacy RTW ticket pricing engine, available 24/7 on our website, set up to give immediate prices for any trip regardless of its complexity without having to speak to anyone. Feel free to check it out. :)

        Nico

         
        • Jason

          AKL-HNL, HNL-LAS, LAS-JFK & JFK-AKL

          AirTreks:
          “Route does not meet current complexity requirements – too few cities, countries, or regions.”

          Indie:
          $2,820nzd but only returned one option with lack of direct flights.

          Webjet:
          $2,634nzd with more direct flights but terrible user experience.

           
          • Sean

            Good call Jason.

            That is a 4 legger I think. As the traveler goes above 6, we are the only OTA oriented option that I know of.

            Usually, with less than 7 legs, we will have more than one option. Our staff members do customize routes for customers when requested for more direct flights.

            The ability for the traveler todo that themself, within Indie, is coming! We are just getting started. Been at this for 15 years, hope to for another 15.

            Good vibes to everyone and to you Nico. I hope you and your family are well.

             
          • Nico

            True Jason, our TripPlanner generally requires a trip to have 3 or more countries to price a route. The reason why TripPlanner has this limitation is because of the highly competitive nature of less-complex routings. We like to save people time.

            That said, our staff absolutely has the ability to price your trip by hand however. Route-wise, nothing is ever off the table.

            Nico

             
  3. Sean

    Yeah, good call John, that’s part of the product road map.

    With instant pricing, it doesn’t take long to try 10+ variations yourself too…which before Indie, was impossible. Some travelers, do 50 to 100 searches within an hour to figure out what they want, all on there own.

    Appreciate the good vibes and thanks for the suggestion. Noted!

     
  4. john campbell

    Looks great. Would be good to show you alternative routes. e.g. if you fly in to Singapore rather than HK you’ll save £xxx. Great start tho!

     
    • Nick Vivion

      Nick Vivion

      That’s a great idea – also could say that an overland trip to X departure city would also save you Y amount of money. I like the ability to be able to see what factors affect price beyond just city and date.

       
 
 

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