Kayak.com is expanding with the beta launch of its first European site www.kayak.co.uk. Supported by a London-based team, Kayak.co.uk launches with the industry’s most powerful flight search and Kayak Forums. The award-winning Kayak Buzz tool will be available Dec. 14 and hotel and rental car search will follow later this year.
“British travelers have suffered through the biased results and service fees of online travel agencies and the primitive functionality of current travel search engines,” said Steve Hafner, Kayak.com co-founder and CEO. “Our launch in the UK brings a superior interface, innovative functionality and focus on user-generated content and personalization needed to improve the online travel planning experience in the UK. British travelers will finally have access to the site dubbed by industry experts as the ‘poster child’ of Travel 2.0 and listed among other Web 2.0 leaders YouTube, Facebook and Flickr.”
Kayak’s industry-leading flight search, available on the new UK site, provides real-time prices and itineraries from more than 120 travel Web sites including leading European carriers British Airways, Air France and bmi; low cost carriers easyJet, Ryanair and Air Berlin; and online travel agencies such as ebookers and wegolo. Users can search one way, round trip or multi-city, and Kayak.co.uk is the only travel search site that offers flexible search, which is the ability to search up to three days before and/or after a preferred travel date for the best fare and itinerary combinations.
On Dec. 14, Kayak will be the first Web site to bring airfare predictability to the UK with three industry leading features that provide consumers with the airfare pricing history on flight searches to help make an informed purchasing decision:
Best Fare History displays the 100 best prices found by other Kayak users searching the same route over the past 36 hours.
Best Fare Trend Graph charts pricing for city/date pairs found by users over the past 90 days.
The award-winning Kayak Buzz displays the lowest fares to the 25 most popular destinations from any airport or city found by other Kayak users. Results are displayed on an interactive Google Map. Consumers can get the Buzz from a home airport by region: World, US, Europe, Caribbean, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia/Oceania; and/or theme: ski, golf and gambling/casinos.
Another Web 2.0 feature is Kayak Forums, user generated content which allows consumers to share and request travel tips, stories and additional information with other users. Forums are searchable by region (Africa, Asia, Canada, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Mexico, Middle East, South America, South Pacific and US), topics (Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Family Travel, Romantic Getaways and Sports Travel) or key words. A “watch” can be placed on forums of interest which alerts the user via email once a message is posted to that specified forum.
Kayak.co.uk also features dates, distances and currencies which have been customized for the needs of UK travelers. Search results go directly to the UK versions of the sites searched, so users can purchase tickets directly in British pounds.
Thanks to its superior product, Kayak has exploded on the North America market. In less than 18 months with minimal marketing spend, Kayak has emerged as one of the top 20 North American travel sites and garnered numerous accolades from industry observers. Interest in Kayak has already spread to UK travelers; over 225,000 UK travelers visited Kayak’s North American site in September.
Kayak plans to launch in France and Germany during the spring of 2007.