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]


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

  1. Dave says:

    Luv your blog, CF (in SouthWest speak).
    It seems like a decent price to acquire the unique name (fly.com) and the kayak-like interface. I don’t know the details, but it’s possible that the Kayak owners licensed their site to fly.com, or even were the owners of that site. Either way, it’s cool to own the fly.com name. Domain name trivia:

    World’s most expensive domain names
    1. Sex.com, $12m – purchased in 2005
    2. Porn.com, $9.5m – purchased in 2007
    3. Business.com, $7.5m – purchased in 1999
    4. Diamond.com, $7.5m – purchased in 2006
    5. Beer.com, $7m – purchased in 1999
    source: http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2008/02/07/domain-name-fetches-record-price

  2. james says:

    I usually travel mostly for pleasure, so I follow the “go where it’s cheap” line of thinking.

    Kayak is a great tool for that. Two things I love about are the fare alerts – which emails you when fares drop below a set price, and the “buzz” feature, which lets you drill down the fares that others have found to various regions.

    Don’t see either of those on fly.com. – so why would I even bother when Kayak has been my “starter search too” for years?

  3. Dave says:

    check it out….looks like kayak.com is down. I wonder if this is purely coincidental…
    Kayak.com is temporarily unavailable

    Our engineers are upgrading our website to add some exciting new product features and improvements. Please grab a cup of coffee and come back to try us again in a few minutes.

    Or, you can search hundreds of travel sites the old way, by visiting each one, one at a time. :)

  4. Perr says:

    Funny one, I guess I have to do some travel then!

  5. Mr. Travel says:

    Arg, fantastic comparison.

    Fly.com has a LOT of balls for actually releasing such a site to the public. Either they think we are all morons, or the company is ran by morons.

    Absurd.

    When I first went to fly.com, I immediately took a screen shot. If you opace the fly.com site with sidestep.com, it is almost identical. They hardly even moved anything, let alone changed functionality.

    I am still in disbelief at the lack of innovation at TravelZoo.

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