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Hipmunk picks up $4.2 million to ease travel

New flight search service wants to take the agony out of flying with simple, smart sorting

Financial trends and news by Ronny Kerr
February 3, 2011 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/16a5

Hipmunk, a new flight search service that wants to lessen the pain of traveling, confirmed Thursday that it has raised a $4.2 million round of funding led by Ignition Partners with participation from experts in the online travel space, including former Expedia CEO Rich Barton, another former Expedia CEO Erik Blachford, Preview Travel founder Jim Hornthal, TravelPost co-founder Simon Breakwell and Real Networks founder Rob Glaser.
 
Originally incubated by Y Combinator, Hipmunk last raised a $1 million angel round in October 2010.
 
When one visits the Hipmunk site, everything you see is contained in the screenshot above. It’s definitely one of the simplest landing pages for a search site I’ve ever seen. You select where you’re departing from, where you’re trying to go, your travel dates and how many people are traveling, and there are options for travel class and airline preferences.
 
Hipmunk then returns a page of possible itineraries in a format that takes a second to get used to:


 
First of all, Hipmunk’s default setting is to sort flights by “agony,” or a combination of price, duration and number of stops. You can change the sort option, but you might not really want to. Much of the draw of Hipmunk is its ability to present the flight options that would appeal most to a human traveler. It even aggregates certain flights from the same airline or near the same time and only displays the best one, hiding the “worse” ones.
 
Probably the single greatest feature of Hipmunk, however, is its “Live Help” chat feature. Clicking the little tab in the bottom right-hand corner, brings up a little chat window. When I typed in that I had a question, I received a reply from an actual human being within about ten seconds. That’s some seriously unbeatable customer support; it might be hard to scale, but it will make customers incredibly happy. (By the way, the chat function is powered by Olark.)
 
The new funding will be used for hiring and further development of the platform.
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