Hubskip, a big data startup from Amsterdam — the home city of The Next Web — has launched its unique price-saving travel booking service in beta today at the Microsoft Bizspark Startup Rally at TNW Europe. While the service is open for use, it is currently restricted to search, but bookings will be enabled and open for business on June 1.
Founded in August 2012, the service was first unveiled at the Launch Festival in San Francisco last month, and is designed to provide travellers with the best possible deal for flights. Hubskip does not charge its customers service fees or any other add-on charges, and it gives those that book their flights more than a fortnight before travelling a guarantee that they’ll pay the lowest possible fair from an airline.
As anyone who has ever booked a flight knows, airlines (frustratingly!) vary the cost of their flights considerably in the run up to the take-off time. Hubskip identified that prices fluctuate the most 2-12 weeks before travel, any close would be “too risky”, and its proprietary booking engine predicts which prices will change during that period, and by how much.
If the price drops after a customer has booked their ticket, Hubskip will identify the lowest price offered by the airline and provide the customer with a portion of the difference in price — as a refund — with Hubskip keeping the rest. From testing, the company says it has an accuracy rate of over 81 percent and, though not all flights generate a refund, the average saving on long-haul flights comes in at a handy $72.
That might sound like your booking is not guaranteed, but, far from it, Hubskip says it will always seat customers on their flight…even if that means bumping them up to business class. That’s not a bad risk, if you ask me.
Though barely six months old, Hubskip already has some important partners. It gets flight data from Travelport, a travel booking platform, and has deals with Dutch ticketing firm Airtrade and the Radboud University of Nijmegen, the latter of which helps modify and improve its prediction engine.
For now, the service is focused on flights but CEO and co-founder Alexander Mans tells me that there is the potential to move into other travel verticals in the future:
Our vision is about honest, clear and competitive pricing in the travel industry. We don’t feel limited to airfares, but see it as the first step before exploring other verticals like hotels, rental cars or any other perishable travel products.
Likewise, there are plans for the business to expand to offer services to travel agents and also open an API, to allow the Hubskip service to be used on other websites, apps, etc. That’s in order to help commoditize it and also guard against any copycats that emerge.
Mans says that airlines are “not exactly happy” with the service, since it cuts away the fat that they charge customers, but there is nothing that they can do to stop Hubskip and the way that the service operates.
Hubskip raised a $300,000 angel investment in September 2012 and is currently in the process of raising a seed round to grow the team and ramp up operations. Speaking as someone who often takes long-haul flights — I’ve one coming up this weekend after the close of TNW Europe 2013 — I’m excited to test out the prediction engine and see if I can get a discount on my travel in the future.
Image via mike_miley / Flickr