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.

  • Share
  • Read Later
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.

KabsKubs
KabsKubs

Being airborne always kind of makes me think of Russian roulette.With this kind of gambling aspect to the deal thrown in,I'd be fidgetting in my seat from anxiety.

PengKToh
PengKToh

@TIME @Techland Flying to one of two potential destinations can only appeal to a couple if they can’t agree on those two, not any other!

PengKToh
PengKToh

@TIME @Techland Flying to one of two potential destinations can only appeal to a couple if they can’t agree on those two, not any other.