Redefining Existing Experiences
Hotel search has long been quite stagnant. Even with the advent of the Internet, many sites just replicated online what travel agents had done for clients for years. Seeing this as an opportunity, a company called Hipmunk decided they’d try to innovate within the stale space. They wanted to go beyond just listings of hotels ranked by price, rating, or distance from some landmark; they wanted to fundamentally change how people visualized what their options were.
Hipmunk came up with a series of data sets that might be interesting to users as they’re searching for their hotels. A map of hotel locations can be overlaid with a heatmap of points of interest related to food, tourism, shopping, nightlife, and “vice.” Now, instead of picking a hotel solely based on price, features, or distance from a location, users are able to choose a hotel near a concentration of restaurants, bars, shopping, etc. This use of location is about helping people make more informed decisions about where they stay.
The most interesting aspect of the Hipmunk story is their use of points of interest (POIs). In a time where POIs tend to only get used for check-ins, Hipmunk went after a radically different approach. They use POI data to provide visual cues to assist users in their searches. It’s a great example of how raw location data—in this case, an address or coordinate associated with a set of POIs—can be used in new and compelling ways.
If it helps people have a better travel search experience, we’ll do it. That’s just how we roll.