Fly.com is a New Travel Search Engine Without Much Differentiation

You would have thought that Fly.com would become the most incredible travel search site of all time. Why do I say that? Well the folks up at Travelzoo decided to pay $1.8m just for the domain name. So I figured that they had something amazing up their sleeves. So far, that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems to be just another travel metasearch site.

In fact, the site doesn’t even have a unique look to it. First, here’s a screenshot of the matrix view for a flight search.

Fly.com Interface (Similar to Kayak)

Ok, now here’s a screenshot of the same search on Kayak with the matrix view turned on.

Kayak Interface

It’s absurdly similar, right? So what exactly is the difference here? Well there’s only one that I can see that might be useful. When you do a search, it shows the results from all classes of service. So you can see coach, business, and first class all on the same screen. Even better – they include premium economy results, something that other sites have been slow to show.

But that hardly seems like enough of a reason for me to start using them. I mean, they paid over a million dollars, so they have to have a hook to get people onboard, right? Um, sure. Hopefully they’ll roll that out one of these days. So why did they even bother with this?

I can understand why Travelzoo would want to get into the travel search game, because they’ll be able to promote their paid deals. So I imagine that when someone searches for midweek flights to Vegas, they can overlay it with some great hotel deals. But they aren’t doing that yet. This is what they’re doing so far:

Travelzoo Ads on Fly.com

I did a couple of searches and those results do change, but nobody is going to even notice this. They need to get more aggressive in promoting deals that are truly stellar and can’t be found elsewhere. Only then will people maybe consider coming to Fly.com to search, but even that is questionable. Most people are already trained to book their flights and then look around for deals on a variety of sites including Travelzoo.

So, I can see why Travelzoo thinks it would be a good idea to start a travel search site, but I have no idea why they thought this domain was worth $1.8m. They should have just put it under the Travelzoo name or picked an unclaimed domain that would have cost them $10 a year. Maybe they have more plans for the site, but if not, then this one looks dead on arrival.

[I wrote this piece last week, and it appears that TechCrunch had the same thoughts I did]

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