While attending the Travel Bloggers’ Exchange convention in New York this past June, I was invited to a presentation for a revolutionary, but relatively new flight search aggregator called Momondo. I was vaguely familiar with the company because innovations in the travel world are usually spread like wildfire through the social media realm. We (my daughter and I) were running a little late because we were caught in the moment while viewing the phenomenal skyline from the top of 30 Rockefeller Center.
Luckily, we weren’t very far from our destination at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. The company hosting the event, Kintetsu International (the Japan specialist travel agency), was kind enough to provide saki libations and crudites, fresh fruit slices, sushi and sushimi for all of the invited travel industry professionals to snack on. It was interesting to find out that the particular brand of saki that we were served was available in 50%, 60% and 70% proof. Knowing my low tolerance for alcohol, I decided to sample the 50%, god help me if I had tried the 70.
Not long after, we were called into the conference room where we were introduced to one of the partners of Momondo, Martin Lumbye, who explained the company’s mission was and still is to create the most trustworthy price comparison search engine in the world.
Momondo, which means “My World” in old Spanish, began in 2006 as a small flight aggregator in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their interface allows them to compare prices from more than 800 suppliers because they do not limit their searches to major carriers, they include discounters too. Aggregators like Kayak, only have 300-400 suppliers because they have narrowed their focus to the major airlines. Kayak steers away from discounters like Airtran, RyanAir or Priceline, so their searches are limited to major carriers.
According to Mr. Lumbye, “Momondo’s promise to customers is powerfully simple: to provide them with the fastest and most comprehensive plane ticket search available on the Internet. Momondo makes this possible through leveraging its comprehensive network of travel industry relationships and the most cutting-edge search technologies available. As a result, Momondo combines searches across hundreds of websites with hundreds of different interfaces to return relevant flight options to the consumer or business traveler whether they use low-cost airlines, the well-known national airlines, online travel agencies or ticket databases.” This means that Momondo’s searches include data from the airlines’ own websites and online travel companies, as well.
To that end, I was sold on the product; from a budget traveler’s perspective, it is never a good idea to cherry pick options for travelers. We need to know and have access to all booking venues, not a select (and usually more expensive) few that the aggregator limits us to. Conversely, I would think that little known concerns would benefit as well by participating on a more level playing field.
Momondo does not buy data from the airlines. Instead, they employ web crawlers to search the internet for the best prices. While they do have suppliers that pay them, they decided long ago to operate from a value-added perspective instead of a revenue generating standpoint. They reasoned that if they only focused on revenue then they would have to use larger airlines in order to realize higher revenue streams and the everyday traveler would never have access to said discounters. They realized that they must look at the big picture and provide the traveler with as many options as possible that would give them the best price in one place. They couldn’t do that by limiting the number of carriers.
To bring this concept to even greater heights, Momondo launched a fully integrated train and flight comparison component to their website. This move comes in a time with growing awareness of the environment-friendly high-speed trains that race between many of Europe’s big cities.“By displaying trains and flights together, we provide the consumers with even greater transparency, sending a green signal at a time where climate is of highest priority”, explained Mr. Lumbye.
I don’t need to tell you how frustrating it is to find a good deal on a rail ticket. It’s nice to know that Momondo is realizing how important the rail system has become and will continue to be to the casual and frequent traveler and is providing a unique service as a result. Additionally, the site has a hotel and car rental search feature which intuitively uses the parameters that were set for the flight search and applies them to their hotel and car rental search engine component. It simplifies what can sometimes be a daunting task.
After the supplier’s website is launched in a new window, you will notice that the Momondo site will display a short survey to record your experience. You will be allowed to rate the supplier and give honest feedback. This is particularly helpful for buyers who may not be as familiar with some boutique suppliers because they are small and relatively unknown. This will give them some yardstick as to what they can expect from that particular vendor. I’m most excited about this aspect of the site because it gives the traveler a way to instantly record his/her experiences.
At this point, I believe that Momondo has a leg up on the competition. However, it won’t be difficult for competitors to adopt the same philosophy at some point. Therefore, it’s essential for companies like this to continue to keep the customer at the forefront of their decisions if they want to grow their business. All, in all…..I like the fact that Momondo believes in spreading the wealth and allowing the little guy the opportunity to compete with the big boys. I can only hope that the competition will follow their lead because that will create a win-win situation for everyone.
Here’s Momondo and welcome to it!
Please note that this review was and is uncompensated and is a report of the presentation that occurred in the offices of Kintetsu International and any conclusions drawn from it are solely mine.