It’s hip to be Hipmunk

It’s great to get comments or emails from readers of this blog, so I was pleased when Caroline Gould reached out in response to a post about Pinterest a while back. She had just been to a panel discussion at Cornell that included Adam Goldstein, the co-founder of online travel search site Hipmunk. Among other topics, he had commented on the potential that Pinterest held for companies in the travel and hospitality industry, and she thought I might enjoy speaking with him. Well, I sure did — so consider this a “crowd-sourced” blog post. And thanks, Caroline!

I was keen to hear Adam’s take on the value that Pinterest might offer — and ways in which Hipmunk itself might use the platform — but first I wanted to learn more about Hipmunk itself. I had heard positive comments about the flight- and hotel-booking site, and was curious about what set it apart from others in the field.

Adam described one of Hipmunk’s most useful attributes as a “visual timeline” that allows people searching on the site to find the best flights at a glance, based on time of travel. The graphic interface is effective in hotel selection, as well, laying out choices on a map illustrating the location of a range of hotels, rather than just presenting a scroll-down list. The process reduces the number of search results that may be completely irrelevant to a customer who needs to fly within a particular schedule or wishes to stay within a particular radius of a given location. 

Since the time of our initial interview, Hipmunk has rolled out “Hipmunk Business Class” (the current beta version is free, but the service will require a paid subscription in the future) designed to allow people to make arrangements for multiple travelers with multiple itineraries. The program can even integrate with Outlook and Google calendars.

Hipmunk’s focus on improving the visual interface in travel search mirrors Adam’s enthusiasm for Pinterest. The platform’s early success, he suggests, lies with its visual appeal, as it “shows what the hospitality industry knows already — pictures sell!”

On the Hipmunk website, the search company has a link to its own Pinterest boards, which now number more than 20. Board topics include such titles as Global Eats, Destination Weddings, Travel Fashion, Travel-isms, Travel Gear, Street Food, Street Art, Cultural Happenings, Drink-up and more.

Those types of topics (when localized) can serve individual hotels well and can help to extend the hotel’s relationship with guests. So take a page from a hip little mammal and get your Pinterest boards up.

Oh, and about that name. To make a long story shorter for a blog post, Adam credits his girlfriend for collaborating with him on it. They just thought it was cute. And so do we!