Technologizer

GetGoing: Cheap Flights for People Who are Willing to Take a Gamble

A new site makes you pick two destinations, then chooses one at random.

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Harry McCracken / TIME.com

Every time an airplane takes off with even one unfilled seat, an airline is making less money than it could. Selling that seat to someone at some price — even not very much — would be better than leaving it empty. But an airline can’t just start slashing fares willy-nilly; it doesn’t want to give everyone an aggressively good deal.

A new travel site called GetGoing thinks it’s found a way to make both airlines and cheapskate consumers happy. The startup competes against well-established companies such as Priceline and Hotwire, which offer deep discounts to travelers who are willing to commit to paying for a flight or a room before they know which airline or hotel they’re buying from.

But GetGoing doesn’t just mask the airline; it also requires that you choose two different destinations, and commit to buying tickets before you know which one you’ll get. (You can choose any two you like as long as they’re at least fifty miles apart.) The company then selects one destination and sells you your tickets — which it says are marked down by up to 40 percent, beating even other sources of cut-rate fares.

Why the forced choice? Air carriers are willing to give deep discounts to vacationers, who might not fly at all if the price isn’t right. But they’d rather not offer the same deals to business travelers, who are usually spending their companies’ money and are therefore less price-sensitive. By requiring customers to be willing to choose two potential destinations, GetGoing weeds out the corporate crowd.

Of course, it also weeds out plenty of vacationers, including anyone who’s unwilling to commit to pay for a trip without knowing the destination. But GetGoing CEO Alek Vernitsky told me that there’s a class of cost-conscious consumer who will find the proposition appealing, especially when multiple people are traveling at once. And for some of them, the surprise factor is fun — or even helpful, such as when a couple can’t agree on where to go.

I wondered if GetGoing uses some fancy algorithm to match up travelers and seats in the most efficient way possible. Turns out that it’s basically flipping a coin: after you’ve picked two destinations and proceeded with the transaction, it chooses one at random. I was also curious if the company’s business model only worked for last-minute flights, when airlines are desperate to fill seats. But Vernitsky told me that the airlines pretty much know how full flights will be, and are therefore happy to offer discounts even months in advance.

GetGoing’s site is slick and engaging, but I’m not part of its super-price-sensitive target audience; I don’t even like the idea of not knowing which airline I’m going to be flying, let alone where I’ll be heading. Then again, my wife and I have been debating destinations for our long-planned, much-delayed honeymoon for more than two years now, and haven’t managed to settle on one — so you never know.

66 comments
lfonsotome
lfonsotome

%s ho bro!! In what hole r u un?? Hope seeing u soon!! %s! :)

BigBoyTravel.com
BigBoyTravel.com

if you are doing two different cites (ie: Paris, Barcelona) on a trip and didn't care which order you did them this is great.  You book the round trip selecting both, save a couple hundred bucks and go.  Especially with Europe it's easy and cheap to get back to the city you need to leave from. 
In the case above if it gave me Paris and I wanted to do both cities I would book an EasyJet ect hopper flight to leave for Barcelona about two hours after I land therefore checking out Barcelona first then work back to Paris during the trip. 
I've found their tickets to be cheaper than open jaw or multi-destination tickets.
-BigBoyTravel.com

NickoleRaymond
NickoleRaymond

%s “%s: New service offers cheap flights—If you don't care where you go | %s9b5 (v%sand)”

KaraDemeulle
KaraDemeulle

what Bernard responded I am amazed that people can get paid $4047 in four weeks on the internet. did you see this web site... buzz75.ℂom


HAF1
HAF1

There are obvious problems with this concept which predict demise.  First, committing to two destinations with different price-points will merely result in the buyer ending up with the cheaper of the two destinations and not at all the cheapest cost for the destination this company chooses.  The cost savings claimed in this article clearly are in reference only to the higher cost of the two distinations chosen.  THIS IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PERPETUAL MOTION MACHINE and a SHELL GAME.  It will fail.  I'll bet they were thrilled with the advertising from cnn.com tho.

zewe
zewe

it's asinine - if a flight and hotel is randomly picked between 2 choices - what are the chances that you WILL get the flight AND the hotel in the Same place? This idea will last for a few months and then someone will buy the company just to eliminate the competition and scrap it. I am sure Alec is gambling on exactly that outcome.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

I tried booking a flight to Madison, WI. They had a cheap flight ($110 less than on AlaskaAir.com), but they had no other destinations in Wisconsin.  I would have thought Green Bay would have been an otption, but apparently not.

Mattahan
Mattahan

@fiya247 cool. I saw a thing like that on the Simpsons once. They ended up going to Japan...and getting stuck there.

RobbHenshaw
RobbHenshaw

@HAF1 Quick correction - we do NOT automatically give someone the cheapest of the two trips that they pick. Our system truly randomizes the selection, so you might get the cheaper OR the more expensive one of the two trips you pre-selected. But in both cases (for both trips) you will be getting a better price (usually between 20-40%) than what you can find on other travel sites - so if you're flexible enough to pick two and let us select the final one, you'll get a great deal on your trip. If the system was so predictable that it always gave someone the cheaper of the two trips, then our airline partners would not be partners for very long. 

I hope that clarifies things a bit and eases your concern. And I hope you check it out for yourself to see how it works. If you have any additional questions, please ask! All the best.

-Robb Henshaw, VP of Communications at GetGoing.com

stephen
stephen

@HAF1 It says that the computer randomly chooses the destination.  The savings on the picture are respective to the destinations, not for both of them.  For example, the pictured option of Montego Bay is $915 with $276 in savings.  This is a few dollars more than the discount price to Punta Cana.  If the choice is random, then you could easily end up paying more (but potentially saving more) depending on your two choices and which one you get.

zewe
zewe

@HAF1 i wonder if one can game the system by always proving the secondary destination as a much more expensive one - like Miami or Paris - Austin or Christchurch .... if the system always choses the cheapest one and in this case its guaranteed - Your 1st choice always wins. 

GetGoingTravel
GetGoingTravel

@sjohnson301 We can't guarantee the collection of frequent flyer miles however many of our airline partners do allow you to earn miles

GetGoingTravel
GetGoingTravel

@sjohnson301 Glad you like the concept! Yes - you will always pay only ONE of the two prices and only for the destination that is booked

RobbHenshaw
RobbHenshaw

@zewe We only do flights at this point (but hotels will be coming at a later date). So there is no possibility that you will get a flight to one place and a hotel to another (since we don't offer hotels yet). But when we do add hotels, we will always book the flight and hotel together for each location - so again, you will have absolutely no risk of booking a flight to one places and a hotel to another. If you have any other questions, please let me know. 

- Robb Henshaw, VP of Communications at GetGoing.com

zewe
zewe

@mtngoatjoe - so if there is no alternative destinations they don't even let you book the available one? Thats is the most lunatic biz model ever! 

hominum
hominum

@jimbotravels me too - I remember another site with that years ago and they didn't work out

fiya247
fiya247

Um... RT @Mattahan: @fiya247 cool. I saw a thing like that on the Simpsons once. They ended up going to Japan...and getting stuck there.

mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

@zewe @mtngoatjoe : Correct Zewe, you must pick TWO destinations. Since there is only one destination in Wisconsin, you must pick another state as your second option. I still find it hard to believe Green Bay isn't an option.

RobbHenshaw
RobbHenshaw

@sjohnson301 @GetGoingTravel @united Our pleasure! Many of our partners do honor their miles/loyalty programs on trips booked through us, but not all. So it would depend on the airline you get. 

RobbHenshaw
RobbHenshaw

@zewe @mtngoatjoe We do not have all destinations yet, as we are still expanding our inventory as we add more and more airline partners. We currently have more than 10 of the major domestic and international airlines on board, so we're flying to thousands of destinations in over 50 countries - but we don't have everything yet. If there is a destination you're looking for that isn't in our system yet, stay tuned!

Also, regarding the two locations - the two places you pick need to be at least 50 miles apart. This helps ensure that someone who really needs to get to one particular place (like if you really need to get to Denver) won't be able to fly somewhere else close by and then just drive. The point of our system is that it confirms that you really are traveling for leisure (not business, etc.), which is why the airlines grant people who use our system greater discounts. If you really need to be somewhere specific for business, to see family, etc. then you will pay the standard rate to get there. But if you're truly a flexible leisure traveler who is fine with going to either or two different locations (further apart), then you can save a lot of money on your flights with us. 

Thanks!

- Robb Henshaw, VP of Communications at GetGoing.com

zewe
zewe

@mtngoatjoe @zewe just tried the same with Denver and Boulder - or at least Colorado Springs. Got a "OOPS! Site Under maintenance" reply. - Almost seems like a weird circuitous scam.
Creating a clean 'friendly' site isn't hard these days - making it useful is another thing