Move over, Priceline and Hotwire. GetGoing comes out of beta with its fresh spin on opaque discounts

Today GetGoing came out of beta with a unique “blind booking” proposition: It asks travelers to pay for airfare first before finding out where they’re going.

In a fresh take on opaque booking, the San Francisco startup asks its customer to use its trip inspiration tool to find some surprising vacation ideas, pick two airfares from its selection, enter their payment details, and then be told which airfare they’ve bought.

Yes, that’s right. You click “purchase”. Then you find out where you’re flying. The risk of using the “Pick Two, Get One” platform comes with a potential reward of saving up to 40% off of airfare. If a user has picked two destinations, and one is more expensive than the other, both trips have an equal chance of being selected for the traveler, says the company.

As we noted in Tnooz’s profile of GetGoing, GetGoing launched in August. Since then, it has been accepting users by “invitation only,” to manage volume.

As of today, anyone can sign up either by creating an account or logging in via Facebook. (During beta, it added 27,424 likes to its Facebook page.)

GetGoing covers hundreds of major airports in more than 50 countries, but only works for trips originating from US airports. An international expansion is promised by the third quarter of this year.

The startup has landed deals with specific airlines to provide it with discounted inventory on certain routes or on certain dates. In some situations, it may have an exclusivity agreement with a carrier that requires GetGoing to promote its flights at the exclusion of others.

Will airlines play along?

Some analysts may dispute if there’s enough volume of seats that consumers truly want available for arbitrage. The company points out that nearly one in five seats on all flights in the US are empty, according to US Department of Transportation figures.

That’s true, but aren’t most of those red-eyes or mid-afternoon flights? Possibly so. But if GetGoing can convert some flexible leisure travelers into buying these otherwise unwanted seats, it’ll have come up with a niche not yet served by competitors.

You can almost hear the seductive pitch of a GetGoing salesperson to an airline exec. “Your airline has boosted your load factor to 87% on average? We can get you to 97%! Only GetGoing can squeeze fill up those last seats.”


Alek Vernitsky, co-founder and CEO of GetGoing, thinks the company can make a profitable trade-off of those empty airline seats by creating a unique customer segment that doesn’t cannibalize other sales or put a downward pressure on airfares. Says the company:

GetGoing is a technology platform that works seamlessly with airlines’ existing pricing and distribution systems, so the airlines get a new tool in their arsenal for more effective, targeted online sales.

GetGoing shares its extensive data with participating airlines, giving airlines additional tools to analyze what would work best for their routes and inventory. GetGoing also uses both historical data from the airlines as well as customer-provided data to personalize destination recommendations for travelers.

For example, if a customer takes an annual trip to a beach destination, GetGoing can suggest relevant locations and attractive deals.

“The GetGoing model will appeal to airlines because it provides tremendous revenue upside without disrupting their existing revenue segments,” said former airline industry executive and current industry advisor Al Lenza.

“This offering is structured in a way that produces incremental revenue for the industry, and does so with an airline-friendly distribution model.”

The company only sells flights for now, but it says it will begin selling flight-plus-lodging packages “in the coming months.”


The startup is a Y Combinator graduate, and is backed by a number of investors, such as Alexis Ohanian and Yuri Milner, plus private equity funds, such as Digital Collective and Lightbank.

One hurdle facing GetGoing is how to quickly and easily explain its “pick two, pay for one, buy what they give you” concept, which is pretty complex—possibly even more complex than Priceline was to explain to new users in 1999.

To solve that problem, the company hopes to become the first trip-inspiration tool to successfully convert customers, “like a Pandora for travel.”

To get the word out, it has cooked up a new promo video:

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Thomas Sparico

    This is an interesting model. As someone who was on the Founding Team of focusing on the air product (from a revenue management perspective), I commend the innovative thinking in the air vertical, especially pertaining to solving the age old problem of filling empty airline seats without diluting brand and displacing higher paying business travelers. It will be interesting to see how they do and what the cost of acquiring the “super leisure” customers to use this will be. That remains the biggest challenge to new travel startups with B2C models. That plus having sufficient inventory access to popular destinations to scale the model.

    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      We really appreciate you weighing in with your expert opinion!

  2. mobileguy

    Not to mention the customer service nightmare.

    • Robb Henshaw

      Hi MobileGuy – We really do want the customer experience here at GetGoing to be incredible, and we’ve taken steps to make sure that’s the case. We have a local (SF-based) customer support team in place to handle any inquiries or questions our customers might have. And if a customer thinks that they might need to cancel their trip at some point, we will be offering complete trip insurance (since our tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable without insurance). And in exceptional circumstances we can and have worked with airlines on the customer’s behalf to see if there is anything we can do together to make sure the customer has a good trip. We also welcome any and all feedback on how we can make the experience of booking your trip even better – so let us know how we can improve!

      Robb Henshaw, VP of Comms at GetGoing

  3. LongTimeObserver

    Wow, a brute force attempt to monetize the Non-Rev’s Dilemma…

    Proves definitively that all the good ideas (and names) are already taken.


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