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Agents beat OTAs in finding best prices and places

June 16, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

More than 20 years have passed since the launch of Expedia heralded the dawn of the online travel age, yet, in the view of one expert, “people are still beating the algorithms at the seemingly easily automatable job of checking databases of prices and places”.

Alex Hern, UK-based technology writer for the Guardian, says most online travel agents (OTAs) require “an incredibly specific set of instructions before they’ll get to work”.

Hern gives various examples and notes that many OTAs need the consumer to have quite a bit of knowledge to get the best deals. Among other things, the OTAs don’t tell consumers which days are the cheapest to fly on. Obviously, not every airline flies every day.

Planning travel

Hern’s article is worth reading: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/06/travel-agents-websites-algorithms-skyscanner

“Call me old-fashioned, but I want agents to do my thinking for me,” he concludes.

Oddly, some OTAs used to be more flexible than they are now. Hern notes that Skyscanner once let users specify a range of dates for flights, rather than just one date. He says the site now gives users the option of searching for flights leaving on a specific day, or a whole month, but nothing in between.

That’s one reason why travel agents “seem to have the edge”.

Written by Peter Needham

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