Many of you will know that I have been an enthusiastic advocate for, and participant in, a site called flightfox.com. The idea behind flightfox was to crowd source flight options given requirements of a traveler who launches a contest. So, people like me – ‘experts’ – would pitch ideas to them, and the winning expert would be paid for their service.
Sadly, though flightfox consistently delivered significant savings to travelers (I think about 17% at last count), the business model isn’t working. They can’t sustain their overheads and aren’t getting enough traffic. So, flightfox has removed the crowd sourcing element and is now basically an online travel agent (albeit with flight experts suggesting flights).
I’m still inclined to endorse this service. In my experience high street travel agents lack the creativity and industry specific knowledge to get you the best fare. They’re also incentivised to sell you the more expensive fare, because they are paid on commission. And online aggregation sites like kayak and expedia are good, but lack nuance. Hell, even google’s proprietary software can’t do the job: it’s probably the best travel search engine around, but you can’t book fares through it.
But for me it’s sad. I wasn’t one of the chosen few exerts who flightfox has retained under its new business model. And moreover, I think crowd sourcing flights to undermine the complexity in flight bookings and get people better deals is a great idea, and one I had really hoped would succeed.