90di travel search blog

Travel Search actually saves you money, and more …

June 27th, 2011 by khushnood

The inspiration for this post is, some of the feedback, we got on our facebook page recently regarding savings some travellers, were able to make while using us to find the best flight/train and booking directly (at Airline or Railways site).

One user was able to save Rs. 2018/-. Where as another found a flight for 3.5K on our site, where as some of the big Online Travel Agents (OTA) were showing it for much-much higher!

We also did a post explaining our travel search model some time back. Here is a fresh take on it:

  1. Internet is about removing redundancies, and also superficial intermediaries. And that is primarily by virtue of making the information flow, easily possible, between entities (peoples & systems).
  2. In an ideal scenario, on the Internet, when user wants to book a flight, information from all the Airlines should just flow into the user’s tool (computer/any thing), without any intermediary. There is a seller there is a buyer. The two kinds are sufficient for the trade to happen. And both need each other. Every thing else, can be dispensed with, if not helping the trade, by adding value.
  3. Let’s say for the moment, that no intermediary exists, whether its the OTAs, or travel search engines like 90di. This removes the intermediaries, but then what happens is: User has has to open 10 tabs in the browser, one for each Airline, and one perhaps for IRCTC. So it will be kind of painful for the user.
  4. So basically, some kind of tool is required to make the travel booking process easier. To assist and assimilate the flow of travel information.
  5. But the question is where should the tool stop – meaning what all features it should not have. If it goes on to do booking on behalf of the user, and by that it adds to the cost of travel – hefty commissions; and the double cancellation charges (one to the Airline and one to the OTA). And thereby starting to drain the travel booking eco-system.
  6. More over, Airlines can’t pass on some of the advantages to consumer as part of the booking – For example purchasing food at the time of booking. This particular aspect is a lose-lose proposition for both the Airlines and the traveller. As user is constrained by the limitations of the “generic-for-all-Airlines” features provided by the OTA. And the Airline can’t ‘demonstrate’ more value to the consumer upfront.
  7. So it seems obvious to us, and hopefully to many of you reading this, that travel search engines are the kind of tools you need for travel planning, and nothing more. Anything more – like the booking – and the tool starts to come in your way.

We are glad to be of value to our users. And although, there are some difficulties(+), we try and continue, in the belief, that we are instrumental in the travel search model getting established in India. Which, we believe, is in the best interests of both the suppliers (like Indian Railways and Airlines) and, equally if not more important, for the consumer. We didn’t just say it when we said ‘We are on the traveller’s side’!

 

+ Difficulties like not getting paid by all the Airlines yet — it’s taking some time. And not making anything on the trains’ search – Indian Railways does not yet support the travel search model (although we are hopeful, and have been patiently following up with them). But there are silver lines. Big Thanks to the Airlines that pay us, we are able to keep ourselves motivated and, which reinforces our belief in this model.

Need for ‘Social’ protocol built into the Internet

June 24th, 2011 by khushnood

Have been feeling the need for Internet 2.0 (not web 2.0!), with social protocols, to support applications like Facebook, Twitter wired in. Thereby allowing people to choose between multiple ‘social’ providers.

Just like mails (via SMTP etc.) have been there from early days of Internet, with multiple email providers including Desktop clients.

Else, we will have the problem of a private body (e.g. Facebook) controlling way too much. Like what Google does by being the ‘start page’ of the Internet, and now people are talking about search being part of Internet (there were also a couple NY Times articles some time back on the same).

A paranoid user, should be able to have everything on her Desktop, or her own storage in the cloud. But communicate to others via a ‘social’ protocol (akin to SMTP).

So just like one has gmail/yahoo and other mail, one should be able to choose his/her ‘social’ account(s) and still be able to collaborate with his/her friends using the ‘social’ protocol.

To be more clear in such an environment it doesn’t matter if I am on Orkut or Facebook or on both. Or simply have hacked up a desktop tool, which can talk ‘social’.

I think the Open social protocol has not really taken off in that direction. What I have in mind is just an application level protocol like HTTP/SMTP, which is directly over TCP. Hence it should be more of an Internet standard (owned by IETF types) rather than a consortium of corporates (which I think Open Social is).

NOTE: This blog has opinions and thoughts, which are personal of Khushnood Naqvi, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 90di.

PS: I have not done deep research to write this note. And this was written, some time back. But I still believe, most of the things are still valid – as in Facebook continues to be the dominant social network. Would like to be educated on any efforts, which are in this direction, or counter view points.

Backward compatibility for the human mind…

February 10th, 2011 by khushnood

Don’t worry, its not a post on psychology. Just a whacky title.

Not just systems, but humans (and by extension data) too needs backward compatibility. Case in point the Train numbers have changed from well over a month. But lots of users are still searching for the old numbers:

6604

4646+train+route

2978

6338+ticket+availability

And also, Got one feedback yesterday, which said:
“i asked for rail fare, it gave result for flight…”

search query pertaining to above feedback was:
rail fare of 2433, rajdhani express

What was happening in this case was, since it got a flight with no. 2433. It unwittingly showed the results of the same.

So hey you anonymous friend, who got us to act, thanks! And some good news for you, and also to other users, who must have been suffering in silence. We made a change so you can search like this also, for as long as you like. And when you do get used to the new numbers, that are of course supported as well.

Future of search engines

January 31st, 2011 by khushnood
What would a future search engine be like?
The age of brute force search engines may be about to be over. Or atleast the nature of search engines, are due for a drastic change. By brute force I mean, an approach to crank out meaning, information, and relevance, to the search query, by just looking in tera bytes and peta bytes of data on the Internet. And of course, things like number of back links to that page.
To those, following the areas of Search Engines, its pretty common knowledge, that the conventional Google-like Search Engines are no good for “high quality relevant discovery”. In fact they have been no good, for such information for a good 4 years or so, in my opinion. What we have now, is a situation of “relevant but random discovery”.
Let me explain, it with an example.
Try searching for “video cameras in India” and you get some results. And they all are relevant. But there’s no guarantee, that they are sorted in terms of a criteria, which you may want, e.g. sites having quality information about a camera. So I call this as a “relevant but random discovery” rather than a “high quality relevant discovery”.
As the information they get is still relevant, in some way, is the reason, why most folks are still happy to live with it.  And people are used to just getting by, by tweeking their queries, and getting some satisfactory enough result. The problem is that people don’t even know what they may be missing. Remember no body actually wanted a real nice search engine, when Google silently arrived.
Another thing, why no body sees a problem is that, when using the search engine just for navigation. For e.g. finding out “Java 5 TimerTask”. Its brilliant. You get precisely what you want in the first two results (Aside: they still have 32,100 results for that. That’s why I perhaps used the phrase ‘brute force’)
Was the situation, always like this and people didn’t know?
Certainly not. After the Google arrived in 1998, for some good 5-7 years or so, its PageRank algorithm worked very well. The algorithm works very well, if people don’t game the system. But, we have full blown SEO industry around the Search Engine. And despite Google’s efforts to keep the SEO clean. It’s simply not possible to do it. In today’s Internet world, it will be increasingly difficult to identify for a clean link to a site, to a paid (SEM’d) link. The links from social media, only further add to this noise.
So what’s the solution?
On your machine, how do you find a file. You often search for it, using the file system search. But you know, what file you are looking for. Think, the conventional brute-force search engine, will move more towards navigation, in which a person knows what he wants, and tries to find it.
So something similar will happen on the Internet. Ofcourse the person, doesn’t know which website to look for often, so he will ask his friends for advise. Wait a minute, did you say, ask friends, come on who has the time to ask, and then wait for a reply?
Well the answer is that the asking and replying will happen asynchronously. On all the social media, people are continously telling what they like and what they don’t and sharing various experiences. “This rose smells nice”, “This coffee is not so great” and “this travel site is so great” Or “this site doesn’t rock”. So some body has to just assimilate all these statements of expressions and churn them as replies when a question is being asked.
Several folks are already at play in this area e.g. quora.com – the arguments against it are that its a closed service, bu that’s a different story. But there is far-far from a clear winner. Its possible, but unlikely, that the likes of Google itself, will totally transform themselves into a totally different kind of a search engine. Unlikely I say, is because, its not always possible to kill a cash cow. The conventional brute-force search engine is perhaps at the peak of money making curve, by the various Ad programs – Ad words and Ad Sense. So in such a scenario, will somebody be able to shake of the inertia and start from a clean slate. Possible but unlikely.
There were some efforts, which I was very excited about like blekko.com. But they appeared to be working on a conventional ‘brute-force’ search engine (of course on a better version of it), atleast until about a couple of years back. This was around the time when cuil (remember?) failed spectacularly. It will be interesting to see how they launch, in a post twitter/facebook world.
It will be interesting to see, who get’s there first, and importantly who gets it right.
PS: Had written this piece a few months back. When blekko was yet to be launched. But shied away from blogging it.
NOTE: This blog has thoughts, which are personal opinion of Khushnood Naqvi, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 90di.

What would a future search engine be like?

The age of brute force search engines may be about to be over. Or atleast the nature of search engines, are due for a drastic change. By brute force I mean, an approach to crank out meaning, information, and relevance, to the search query, by just looking in tera bytes and peta bytes of data on the Internet. And of course, things like number of back links to that page.

To those, following the areas of Search Engines, its pretty common knowledge, that the conventional Google-like Search Engines are no good for “high quality relevant discovery”. In fact they have been no good, for such information for a good 4 years or so, in my opinion. What we have now, is a situation of “relevant but random discovery”.

Let me explain, it with an example.

Try searching for “video cameras in India” and you get some results. And they all are relevant. But there’s no guarantee, that they are sorted in terms of a criteria, which you may want, e.g. sites having quality information about a camera. So I call this as a “relevant but random discovery” rather than a “high quality relevant discovery”.

As the information they get is still relevant, in some way, is the reason, why most folks are still happy to live with it.  And people are used to just getting by, by tweeking their queries, and getting some satisfactory enough result. The problem is that people don’t even know what they may be missing. Remember no body actually wanted a real nice search engine, when Google silently arrived.

Another thing, why no body sees a problem is that, when using the search engine just for navigation. For e.g. finding out “Java 5 TimerTask”. Its brilliant. You get precisely what you want in the first two results (Aside: they still have 32,100 results for that. That’s why I perhaps used the phrase ‘brute force’)

Was the situation, always like this and people didn’t know?

Certainly not. After the Google arrived in 1998, for some good 5-7 years or so, its PageRank algorithm worked very well. The algorithm works very well, if people don’t game the system. But, we have full blown SEO industry around the Search Engine. And despite Google’s efforts to keep the SEO clean. It’s simply not possible to do it. In today’s Internet world, it will be increasingly difficult to identify for a clean link to a site, to a paid (SEM’d) link. The links from social media, only further add to this noise.

So what’s the solution?

On your machine, how do you find a file. You often search for it, using the file system search. But you know, what file you are looking for. Think, the conventional brute-force search engine, will move more towards navigation, in which a person knows what he wants, and tries to find it.

So something similar will happen on the Internet. Ofcourse the person, doesn’t know which website to look for often, so he will ask his friends for advise. Wait a minute, did you say, ask friends, come on who has the time to ask, and then wait for a reply?

Well the answer is that the asking and replying will happen asynchronously. On all the social media, people are continously telling what they like and what they don’t and sharing various experiences. “This rose smells nice”, “This coffee is not so great” and “this travel site is so great” Or “this site doesn’t rock”. So some body has to just assimilate all these statements of expressions and churn them as replies when a question is being asked.

Several folks are already at play in this area e.g. quora.com – the arguments against it are that its a closed service, but that’s a different story. But there is far-far from a clear winner. Its possible, but unlikely, that the likes of Google itself, will totally transform themselves into a totally different kind of a search engine. Unlikely I say, is because, its not always possible to kill a cash cow. The conventional brute-force search engine is perhaps at the peak of money making curve, by the various Ad programs – Ad words and Ad Sense. So in such a scenario, will somebody be able to shake of the inertia and start from a clean slate. Possible but unlikely.

There were some efforts, which I was very excited about like blekko.com. But they appeared to be working on a conventional ‘brute-force’ search engine (of course on a better version of it), atleast until about a couple of years back. This was around the time when cuil (remember?) failed spectacularly. It will be interesting to see how they launch, in a post twitter/facebook world.

It will be interesting to see, who get’s there first, and importantly who gets it right.

NOTE: This blog has opinions and thoughts, which are personal of Khushnood Naqvi, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 90di.

PS: Had written this piece a few months back, when blekko was yet to be launched. But shied away from blogging it here. Thanks to Vijay, Patrick, Shaurabh, Kiran and Abhinit for reading it. Since then the noise around search quality has only increased as seen in these blogs: Codding HorrorBlekko founderGoogle.

Travel Search is more ‘green’…!

January 12th, 2011 by khushnood
‘Green’ is the word in vogue, along with other words/phrases like ‘Carbon footprint’, and rightly so, whenever there is talk about eco-friendliness or lack of it.
So here is one simple thought to ponder. Travel Search is more ‘green’ …!
To complete the phrase:
‘Travel Search’ model is more ‘green’ than the Online Travel Agent (OTA) model.
The logic. Its quite simple. First lets define what ‘green’ means in this context. Green means being eco-friendly, which means doing things in a way, which is light on the environment. That is, in simple terms we can define it as: ‘Consume less and produce more’.
People who want to travel need to compare flight (or train) options before buying –  i.e. search the cheapest and the best flight (or train). So some kind of search on top of the Airlines sites and Railway sites, is required. Else the user will have to do the comparison on various sites themselves. Both the Travel Search model and the OTA model fulfill that need.
One thing which OTA also additionally provide to the user is booking. I contest, it is this aspect which makes it less eco-friendly to the entire flight booking eco-system. It creates an extra (larglely redundant) middle layer of providing the booking itself. Which the Airlines themselves do, very nicely.
In doing so, it adds a thick layer of actions, which are largely duplicated and can easily be performed by the Airline itself (Or by the Railways/IRCTC).
To meet this extra cost, it has to charge heavy commissions. So it adds significant cost to Air travel, by charging commissions often as high as 7-8%.
In addition, the OTAs charge their own cancellation fee (or a change fee), in case of cancellation or a change in itinerary. It also has to run call centers, since it does booking. Also it can come in the way of loyalty programs between the customer and the Airline (Some of them make it workable, but its not straight forward).
Last but not the least, all that spam, in the form of mailers, announcing deals and discounts, which are largely useless for you.
Now compare this with what ‘Travel Search’ does. It serves an essential function, of allowing travellers to compare flight options (or train options or both) and choose the best flight (or train or a bus). And doesn’t duplicate the function of booking, which the Airlines do equally well.
It costs less to the eco-system. The referrals paid to travel search players are typically just about 1/10th of the hefty commissions which the Airlines pay to the OTAs. (For this reason its less attractive to VCs, but that’s another story)
It costs less to build. Just a small team of may be around 10/20 people, who sit in a garage (and largely survive on Maggie noodles!) to build a nice and strong search engine. Which allows the users to search the best flight and book directly at the Airline.
Compare this with typically hundreds of employees employed by an OTA, largely to fulfill the additional function of booking.
But don’t the OTAs offer lots of deals and discounts? Yes they do. But in simple terms, it adds further to your average travel cost, as the discount and deals on may be less than 5% of all the bookings/routes, increase the cost of overall bookings. As they have to earn money, and somebody has got to pay for it. The deals and discounts, serve mainly a marketing purpose.
So Travel Search, costs less to build. And gives more value to the user – in terms of providing just what the user wants and then getting out of the user’s way. Less is indeed More – and Travel Search model is yet another example of that!
This is our honest opinion, and would love to debate this, and learn more about it. If you agree to this, then please spread the word about us and this model, to your family and friends (we don’t have the budgets for a TV advertising you see!)
Footnotes:
1. Travel Agents: We believe all the field travel agents (i.e. the ones having a physical presence in form a store, you can walk-in to), serve a very important need, and the above argument does not apply there. Majority of the folks in India, still purchase their travel offline.
2. OTA evolution: It will be unfair to not even mention a bit on the history of this Industry. In the pre-internet days, when travel agents in US had to do bookings for their customers, they relied on Global distribution systems (GDS) – like Amadeus etc. to do the booking. So in a way, the GDSes, used to manage the entire Airline seat inventory. The first generation of online booking sites, didn’t sort of look at the system, from a clean slate view, and just moved everything online –> Online Travel Agent (OTA). Travel Search is a clean-slate perspective, of looking at things overall. It has established itself in US, firmly, with the likes of Kayak. Now, in India, its in the process of establishing itself.
3. Disclosure: We allow users of our site, to compare, flight results from Airlines we show with OTAs. Also we get a commission from the OTA if a booking is done there. So in a sense, you may detect a shade of hypocrisy, in what I say, above.
But I have an explanation for that.  We do see that the majority of the bookings happen through the Airlines itself. Something like more than 95% of the bookings, we see, happen on the Airlines’ site. We give an option to the user, to catch any deals, which may happen at that point in time, which the OTAs do as part of their marketing.
So this blog post is about our world view, but we do accept the reality (of OTAs commanding a large mind share) and we try to make the best use of it. But we totally stand by what we say above, and believe that, it will serve the people better, if ‘Travel Search’ was the dominant model, rather that the ‘OTA’. Since Internet is also about removing redundancies, we believe ‘Travel Search’ is the model, which is going to survive and do well in the long run. Only time will tell…
Acknowledgement: Thanks to Patrick, Sanjeev, Abhinit, Rockey, Kalyan, Bharat, Vijay, Bal, Kiran and Iram for reading and reviewing drafts of this post.

‘Green’ is the word in vogue, along with other phrases like ‘Carbon footprint’, and rightly so, whenever there is talk about eco-friendliness or lack of it.

So here is one simple thought to ponder. Travel Search is more ‘green’ …!

To complete the phrase:

‘Travel Search’ model is more ‘green’ than the Online Travel Agent (OTA) model.

First lets define what ‘green’ means in this context. Green means being eco-friendly, which means doing things in a way, which is light on the environment. That is, in simple terms we can define it as: ‘Consume less and produce more’.

For the uninitiated: Travel Search Engines allow the users to search on their sites and for booking take them to the Airline site (or Railways/IRCTC). Whereas OTA sites give a search option to the user, and also make the users book with them.

Now lets go on and explore why Travel Search is more ‘green’.

People who want to travel need to compare flight (or train) options before buying –  i.e. search the cheapest and the best flight (or train). So some kind of search on top of the Airlines sites and Railway sites is required. Else the user will have to do the comparison on various sites themselves. Both the Travel Search model and the OTA model fulfill that need.

One thing which OTA also additionally provide to the user is booking. I contest, it is this aspect which makes it less eco-friendly to the entire flight booking eco-system. It creates an extra (larglely redundant) middle layer of providing the booking itself. Which the Airlines themselves do, very nicely.

In doing so, it adds a thick layer of actions, which are largely duplicated and can easily be performed by the Airline itself (Or by the Railways/IRCTC).

To meet this extra cost, it has to charge heavy commissions. So it adds significant cost to Air travel, by charging commissions often as high as 7-8%.

In addition, the OTAs charge their own cancellation fee (or a change fee), in case of cancellation or a change in itinerary. It also has to run call centers, since it does booking. Also it can come in the way of loyalty programs between the customer and the Airline (Some of them make it workable, but its not straight forward).

Travel Search is more green

Now compare this with what ‘Travel Search’ does. It serves an essential function, of allowing travellers to compare flight options (or train options or both) and choose the best flight (or train or a bus). And doesn’t duplicate the function of booking, which the Airlines do equally well.

It costs less to the eco-system. The referrals paid to travel search players are typically just about 1/10th of the hefty commissions which the Airlines pay to the OTAs. (For this reason its less attractive to VCs, but that’s another story)

It costs less to build. Just a small team of may be around 10/20 people, who sit in a garage (and largely survive on Maggie noodles!) to build a nice and strong search engine. Which allows the users to search the best flight and book directly at the Airline.

Compare this with typically hundreds of employees employed by an OTA, largely to fulfill the additional function of booking.

But don’t the OTAs offer lots of deals and discounts? Yes they do. But in simple terms, it adds further to your average travel cost, as the discount and deals on may be less than 5% of all the bookings/routes, increase the cost of overall bookings. As they have to earn money, and somebody has got to pay for it. The deals and discounts, serve mainly a marketing purpose.

So Travel Search, costs less to build. And gives more value to the user – in terms of providing just what the user wants and then getting out of the user’s way. Less is indeed More – and Travel Search model is yet another example of that!

This is our honest opinion, and would love to debate this, and learn more about it. If you agree to this, then please spread the word about us and this model, to your family and friends (we don’t have the budgets for a TV advertising you see!)

Footnotes:

1. Travel Agents: We believe all the field travel agents (i.e. the ones having a physical presence in form a store, you can walk-in to), serve a very important need, and the above argument does not apply there. Majority of the folks in India, still purchase their travel offline.

2. OTA evolution: It will be unfair to not even mention a bit on the history of this Industry. In the pre-internet days, when travel agents in US had to do bookings for their customers, they relied on Global distribution systems (GDS) – like Sabre, Amadeus etc. to do the booking. So in a way, the GDSes, used to manage the entire Airline seat inventory. The first generation of online booking sites, didn’t sort of look at the system, from a clean slate view, and just moved everything online –> Online Travel Agent (OTA). Travel Search is a clean-slate perspective, of looking at things overall. It has established itself in US, firmly, with the likes of Kayak. Now, in India, its in the process of establishing itself.

3. Disclosure: We allow users of our site, to compare flight results from Airlines with OTAs. Also we get a commission from the OTA if a booking is done there. So in a sense, you may detect a shade of hypocrisy, in what I say, above.

But I have an explanation for that. We do see that the majority of the bookings happen through the Airlines itself. Something like more than 95% of the bookings, we see, happen on the Airlines’ site. We give an option to the user, to catch any deals, which may happen at that point in time, which the OTAs do as part of their marketing.

So this blog post is about our world view, but we do accept the reality (of OTAs commanding a large mind share) and we try to make the best use of it. But we totally stand by what we say above, and believe that, it will serve the people better, when ‘Travel Search’ is the dominant model, rather that the ‘OTA’. Since Internet is also about removing redundancies, we believe ‘Travel Search’ is the model, which is going to survive and do well in the long run. Only time will tell…

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Patrick, Sanjeev, Abhinit, Rockey, Kalyan, Barry, Vijay, Birla, Gopi, Kiran and Iram for reading and reviewing drafts of this post.

New trains numbers from December 20

December 15th, 2010 by khushnood

You must have heard about it. Indian Railways is going in for a numbering scheme change. Effective 20th Dec, we will have the scheme change from 4 digit numbers to 5 digit numbers. Largely, it should be smooth, as the bulk of the trains – all Mails/Expresses/Rajdhanis/Shatabdis, will just have a prefix of 1 to the existing number. For example:

2833 (Howrah Express) becomes 12833

2493 (Rajdhani Express) becomes 12493

The special trains are supposed to have a prefix 0. But a check into the page set up by Indian Railways, doesn’t show this to be the case consistently. For example:

0233 (Hmh Jp Special) becomes 09733

0465(Dli Pnp Special) remains 0465

You can check for a train number change, on this page set up by Railways.

Update (on 21/Dec):

We moved to the new train numbers: Here is a full list of changes.

Discount on round trip flight bookings

December 13th, 2010 by khushnood

The usual way, for booking flight trips in India has been, separate bookings for onward and return flights. That is primarily because of two reasons:

1. Better management of changes in travel plans of onward and return trips. Say, if the return date of travel changes, then you just need to change the ticket for return journey, and not for the entire journey.

2. Also there were no incentives in terms of discounts in booking round trip tickets.

But in the past few months, several Airlines have started to give significant discounts on the purchase of Round trip tickets. For example on a Go Air ticket from Mumbai to Delhi and back, you can save around Rs. 1500/-, if you book a round trip ticket vs. separate onward and return tickets.

See the example search below:

1) Onward Booking fare: Rs. 5376/-

onward_flight_booking

2) Return booking fare: Rs. 4976/-

return_flight_booking

3) 2-way booking (discounted) fare: Rs. 8762/-

2_way_flight_booking

So for this travel you can save 1592/- if you book 2-way.

But is there a catch?

Not really, just that you need to read the terms & conditions carefully for such bookings. Typically, if you expect the travel dates to change, then it may be better to have separate bookings, as the cancellation/change charges will apply on the entire ticket.

But if you are sort of sure, of the travel plans, then it is worth while, to book it in a single ticket and save money.

Try it out by firing out some two way flight searches. And let us know, if its helpful:

How to specify return flights?

November 19th, 2010 by khushnood

One common question asked to us, is:

“How do I specify the return date for flights in the natural search?”.

Below are a few examples which explain how:

1. Say if you are traveling from Bangalore to Mumbai on the coming 2nd returning on the 5th. Then you just say:

BLR BOM flights 2nd return 5th

2. If the travel is immediate, and in the next few days, then you can just say:

bom del flights monday return Thursday

3. For same day travel you need to just put the same date after the return:

BOM BLR flights 25 return 25

BLR CCU flights 10/Dec return 10/Dec

90di has a new UI!

November 13th, 2010 by khushnood

The blog area has been silent for a while. We had been working on a lot of behind the scenes stuff – on improving the quality of the 90di search engine.

And now, we have some good news to share on the front-end too. We just upgraded the UI to, what we think, is a much better layout. It tells upfront what all travel services we provide. For example, many people do not know yet, that we do have Buses, along with Trains and Flights.

Also it should be easier to navigate for people with different needs. For example people, who want to search using a form. But please do not worry, we have retained the default as “natural” (free-text) search, as that’s what you folks, mostly use, isn’t it?

Do let us know, if you like it. Particularly, requesting you to let us know, if we inadvertently, made any things more difficult, which were easier earlier.

Here is how, the old UI (home page) use to look (for comparisons sake):

old_ui_screenshot

Below is the new UI (in the red shade — which narrowly missed, cutting it in the final release):

new_ui_red

You can try it out here.

Now Choose your flights using the flight fare calendar on 90di.com

April 6th, 2010 by kiran

We have launched the flight fare calendar/outlook yesterday.

This feature was there in our pipeline since long time, and demanded by quite a few users. Earlier, we used to show the flight routes for a default assumed date when the user did not specified the date, which was causing some confusion to our users.

Also from a user-interface point of view it is much more intuitive to  show a big calendar which contains either available-fare, or a link to check fare, when the date is not specified.

So, for flight searches, If you do not specify the date then we will show you the fare calendar. If you specify the date, then we simply show the flight details for that particular date.

More details on Calendar:

We show the calendar for 5 weeks starting from ‘today’. You can click on “Next Week” and “Prev Week” links to see the fares for other weeks. From this calendar you can easily find out the lowest fare in that 5 week period. We show “Check Now” link when there is no data for a cell. By clicking on that link, the flight routes for that particular date is displayed.

For example when you search for “Mumbai to Delhi flights” we will show the fare calendar, which looks as shown below. Since these two are popular airports, you will see that most of the calendar cells are filled up (with the help of searches made by other users earlier).

Mumbai to Delhi flight fare calendar

Mumbai to Delhi flight fare calendar

Another example is “Bangalore to Jammu flights“. In this case the calendar looks a bit sparse — not many searches done for this route perhaps. So, it can be used as date select calendar. Click on any cell, and you will see the flight routes for that particular date.

Bangalore to Jammu flight fare calendar

Bangalore to Jammu flight fare calendar

We think that this feature will be useful for you. Please try it out and let us know what you think.