In the crowded field of travel search engines, Hipmunk is finding a slightly younger user base by mixing nontraditional results—such as Airbnb crash pads to Amtrak and private jets—all in one place with tried-and-true airlines and hotels, CEO Adam Goldstein said.
Hipmunk is also hoping to make it easier for last-minute mobile bookers to find a room or flight by weighing how much "agony" or "ecstasy" is involved in a trip and a destination neighborhood's walkability as well as its food, shopping and "vice" offerings.
A redesign of its hotel section revamps the maps and adds reviews to sentiment search. Hipmunk has hired freelancers to write city and airport guides, and it's leaning heavily on algorithms to power the maps that show where there are high concentrations of restaurants, bars and shops,
"People are waiting longer to book their trips, especially in the hotel space," Goldstein said in an interview. Mobile is where a lot of the last-minute growth is coming from. "The hotels themselves are deciding to offer discounts at the very last minute," he said.
Hipmunk isn't the only travel site to notice that shift. In its quarterly report issued in May, Priceline said: "We have observed an increase in promotional pricing to closed user groups, including through mobile apps. If we are not as effective as our competition in offering discounted prices to closed user groups, our ability to grow and compete could be harmed."