Over the last few years, the travel industry has begun to undergo significant change, as startups and incumbents have fought to bring the disparate parts of a highly regulated industry online. Much of the attention from consumer web businesses has focused on making travel more “social,” improving discovery and helping travelers figure out what to do at destinations of choice. Today, there’s a laundry list of options when it comes to finding information about travel destinations, and sites like TripIt and Kayak (now part of Priceline) have changed the way we search for and book travel — for business and pleasure.
However, while the travel space (especially the social side) begins its inevitable consolidation after a flood of activity and launches, as Semil pointed out, there’s still plenty of opportunity “closer to the top of the decision funnel” — the moments after we decide where it is we want to go. Flights With Friends, a San Francisco-based startup that launches out of beta today, is willing to bet there’s a big opportunity at the top of the funnel in one of the least-explored (but growing) areas of social travel: Group trip planning.
Flights With Friends wants to make it easy for families and friends to find and book flights and hotels together, allowing everyone in your travel posse to see the same results, pin their favorites and chat about different options in realtime. The startup wants to solve the problem that many small groups find when planning trips, preventing the process from devolving into the inevitable lengthy back-and-forth, the group email chains and spreadsheets.