Cheapflights to add ‘inspiration’ search and mobile site

Cheapflights is to become the latest travel website to offer an ‘inspiration’ product search aimed at travellers who have not yet decided where they want to go.

The media site’s ‘Be Inspired’ search tab will go live on Monday, supported by a new mobile site.

Steering search away from price and traditional pre-determined criteria like destination and departure date has long been the holy grail for many travel sites.

Inspiration searches have been tried by others, such as Expedia’s, with limited success. But most travel sites are investigating ways of making search more intelligent so it can sell a suggested destination to customers.

This is particularly important for a publisher like Cheapflights as it needs to give deals maximum exposure to give advertisers the best possible return.

Hugo Burge, Cheapflights Media chairman, said: “The ‘Be Inspired’ tab is incredibly simple; you start with your departure point and that’s the only field that’s compulsory.

“It’s all about selecting destinations that are editorially relevant. One of the greatest challenges for agents is to get in front of eyeballs in inspirational search.”

“Sometimes the most lucrative deal for the travel agent is where people have been inspired to go somewhere new.”

Burge said Cheapflights staff have been tagging destinations in terms of their suitability for certain types of holiday.

This will enable users to drill down into search results using factors like trip type, temperature, location and date range. A filter to determine budget is also available.

Chris Martin, chief technology officer, said: “What’s usually the minimum information people have before they start searching? They know where they are leaving from and they may have a budget. Then they may have a particular time range. We will give them a list of deals and a map view of where they can go and we give them simple intuitive filters.”

Burge added: “We have our famous deals pages, our market-leading newsletter and our travel guides and editorial handpicked deals. This product is the missing piece of the jigsaw and is complementary to the other products. This brings all that together because it’s got elements of all those things.”

Be Inspired will launch on Monday in the UK, US, Canada and Germany, alongside a new Cheapflights mobile site tailored to smartphone browsers.

Screengrabs from the Be Inspired search on Cheapflights mobile site

It offers deals on flights for the following 90 days and includes a ‘My Suitcase’ section which offers trip planning tips and packing lists.

Martin said Cheapflights saw a tenfold increase in traffic from mobile browsers in 2009/10, accounting for between 3% and 6% of traffic on its eight sites.

“We decided a unique mobile browsing experience was more valuable than trying to replicate the website. We see it predominantly as being very good for browsing and sharing with friends.”

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