Displaying price trends on travel sites

October 24, 2007

Everyones seen the price graphs generated by the likes of Farecast which predict airfares over a period of time, and we’ve all seen the calendar based booking flows from BA and Virgin Atlantic.
They’re all great (Farecast especially) but they aren’t the most user friendly designs going.

What I’ve always looked for in a good online travel experience (as well as a usable, intuitive booking flow, inspiring content etc) is user friendly ways to display price trends integrated into product content as well as after entering specific dates etc.

Now Hotels.com have released a new piece of functionality on their U.S. website which shows price trends in a really easy to interpret manner. They’ve implemented interactive hotel rate calendars which show prices by day in a calendar format and colour coded so users can easily spot the best times to book.

The image above shows an open rate calendar for a specific hotel.

It’s a really nicely implemented piece of functionality but the one thing that’s wrong is that I have to specify the date and party size before I can view it. I’d like to see this being available without entering the dates so I can browse the hotels and see a rough guide price (maybe for a standard room with 2 adults) displayed over a year. That would really be useful!

It strikes me that tour operators could use this to help their price sensitive customers find their best deals too. Package (dirty word) holidays are often priced the same over long periods so being able to see colour coded heat maps of the year showing price fluctuation would be a great value add to any tour operators website. Wonder who’ll be first to do it?


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