It’s my second post in a week on a Navitaire customer, but after just returning from a short break for a friend’s wedding at a castle in Ireland, I saw an email from Iberia’s LCC sibling Vueling telling me they have launched a search by fare product, so I had to take a look.

Travel inspiration is definitely the hot topic in travel search at the moment, and there are so many ways an airline could slice it to carve out their own niche, so I was interested to see what Vueling’s take on this space was. At first I was disappointed, but after thinking about it some more, I started to see it a little differently. Below is a screen shot of the search interface.

You can try out this product for yourself here, but the screen shot above pretty much tells it all – this is a very basic product, but one that does exactly as it promises. One problem is that the first reaction is to think your search has not been performed correctly as you need to scroll down to see the list of results – note the word list rather than map, which is the display method favored by many other sites.

It would be wrong to really call this a contender in the travel inspiration space, even though any comprehensive travel inspiration site would need to incorporate search by fare somewhere within the offer. I actually think that the Price Calendar on the Vueling site is a much better interface for finding a cheap flight, but they have put both up, as they probably at this point in time don’t have the ability to combine them into one flow. So you have wide range of prices with only one origin and destination, or the new search which allows for a single date and duration, but with multiple destinations.

A much nicer display is to have all of this data within the user interface layer (within the browser) and allowing the use of dynamic sliders to turn the screen into a sandpit or playground for undecided travelers; but Vueling appear to be looking for a relatively cheap entry into trying to understand consumer preferences when it comes to the future of travel search. That is, without spending a lot of money, but wanting to dip a toe in the water.

To see how this combined flow could work, although I’ve never seen this with a Navitaire hosted carrier (I suspect it is only a matter of time), just take a look at the search by both fare and attributes that Vueling’s stablemate Iberia have had for some time now.

But despite some good attempts, no-one has got this travel inspiration piece quite right yet; given Vueling’s closeness to Iberia, the probable functionality available within their platform, and their desire not to invest heavily in this area at the present time, they are probably happier right now sitting back and watching the results  of others. Iberia and Spanair are both making plays regarding influencing the undecided traveler.

Being first is nice if you have the strength of your own conviction, but being second can also have its merits.

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