A couple of weeks ago I was reading an interview with Joobili CEO Jared Salter by Guillaume Thevenot. Guillaume needs to update his profile on his blog, as it still says he works at Amadeus, even though we unfortunately lost his talent to Tripadvisor earlier this year; but back to Joobili – I’d heard a number of other people mention this site, but it wasn’t until I read the interview above that I actually went and took a look for myself. I’m glad I did.

Back in January I wrote a couple of articles talking about the future of travel search. They actually turned out to be very well received by readers, but in hindsight, a company like Joobili would have been a perfect fit to have been mentioned in the second of those two posts. And when reading this interview Jared Salter did with Tim Hughes back in November 2009, it made my omission even more glaring.

The next part will be integrating price into the results through partnerships with other sites. One other trend is that price is no longer the sole motivator as discounting becomes permanent. For example we have been working with Wizz air [Low cost carrier in Europe]. They offer a 50 euro flight to Rome. It is always 50 Euro. There is not longer an urgency around the discount or low price because they always a low price. Therefore Wizz need to match the cheap flight with time sensitive inspiration to build in a sense of urgency. Price is an extremely motivator for travel behaviour but it is becoming not enough to drive urgency in consumer behaviour.

The Joobili product still has a few rough edges; the profile creation and content addition navigation was not as intuitive as it could have been, I was sent to a 404 page not found error immediately after registering, and not letting someone register on the site without entering a year of birth is totally pointless, but these criticisms are tiny when compared to the really nice UI layer Joobili have built on the front page, and then the way the recommendations are presented and filtered which works nicely. In fact, if I’d recommend skipping the registration process and then you’ll be hard pressed to find much to complain about. This site really manages the inspiration part of travel search extremely well.

Longer term, user registration is where an added layer of value is, as it then enables the social features that are a natural extension of this model. Joobili has some today, but it is still at a very early stage. Whilst writing this, I did go back and look at WAYN to see if they were getting into this same space, as I’ve written in the past how they were thinking of changing their business model – I was surprised to see their new focus appears to be sex tourism, albeit in a more socially acceptable form. The slogan: “Do something you love, with someone you’d love to do it with” and “Dating, wherever you are, whenever you fancy it.” Unfortunately not the type of inspiration I am covering in this post today, but an interesting idea to share a lot more than just itineraries.

With the type of travel inspiration Joobili are covering, and how they are doing it, this is exactly the type of innovation I was envisaging when writing on the future of travel search. Combine Joobili style inspiration and discovery with search by attributes (eg. Affinity Shopper) and then integrate the social features starting with pre trip planning and post trip sharing, combined with good database mining to push appropriate travel suggestions, and you have a formula that really has the potential to redefine how a decent proportion of leisure travel is searched and booked.