As our readers know, the impact of the Internet on the travel industry has been nothing short of revolutionary. And as with most revolutions, the first wave was chaos-no clear leaders, many voices vying to be heard, a lot of false starts and confusion. Travellers found that planning vacations on the Net could take a lot of patience. Valuable information was out there, reams of it actually, but to get the best rates often meant visiting more than one site to carefully compare and contrast all the available options. This was especially true booking airfares and hotels-the prices even on the same flights (or for identical dates at the same property) could fluctuate site to site by as much as 50%. Those Web-wandering days are now over, thanks to the “revolutionaries,” the Lenin and Trotsky so to speak, of the next wave. We’re speaking of QIXO and Fare Chase, two new Web sites (they debuted within one day of one another) with exactly the same premise: to allow the consumer to quickly scour the Internet for the rock-bottom lowest rates in hotel rooms, airfares and car rentals. Both do so by accessing the sites of the various discounters and airlines (including such biggies as Lowestfares.com, Expedia, Travelocity and Cheap Tickets), comparing prices at warp speeds, and returning the information to the consumer in an easily understandable list. Each then allows the consumer to plug back into the original site to book. Does this comparison shopping yield savings? You’ll be amazed! According to Lior Delgo, president of Fare Chase, past customers have saved up to $1000 on air tickets alone tickets for just one trip. He’s underreporting. We did a “chase” for fares from Charlotte, NC to Brussels, Belgium, which yielded round-trip rates ranging from a nice $513 round-trip all the way up to a why-bother $2049. And these quotes were both for itineraries in economy class, each with one stopover on route. The differences in domestic ticketing are not quite as stark, but still notable. For example with a Kansas City to Boston round-trip itinerary for late November, we found rates ranging from $267 all the way up to $406. There are a few differences between the two sites, significant in the short run. First there’s volume. At this point Qixo (pronounced kick-so) is slightly ahead in the number of air sites it searches: 11 discounters and five airline sites, as compared to Fare Chase which searches nine discounters and one airline. But both will be expanding imminently. According to Daniel Ko, CEO of QIXO, his site will be adding ten more airlines and nine more consolidators by the end of December. Lior Delgo, President of FareChase predicts that his site will be tripling its capacity in roughly that same period. If you’re looking to book a hotel room, Fare Chase is the one to visit, as QIXO does not yet have that part of its site up. Fare Chase currently offers searches of eight Web sites including Expedia, Hotel Discount, 800USAHotels and Holiday Inn. For car rentals (another area in which QIXO is lagging behind) it can compare the rates of four sites. Currently when you locate a rate with Fare Chase that you wish to book, its search engine takes you directly to the page on the site offering the booking (allowing you to bypass all the dross). Fare Chase will also allow you to check in with them, so if you lose your confirmation number you can retrieve it easily (those with privacy concerns can bypass the check-in procedures if they wish). Over at QIXO, the rates are compared, but when you click to book, you’re taken to the home page of the site and must navigate yourself from there. Mr. Ko assured me that this was temporary, and “very soon”, they too will be able to link you to the booking page. They are also working on a system that will allow you to put up a “wish list” of sorts, giving the site your dream price on an air ticket. The computer then e-mails you when and if that rate is being offered. (Fare Chase has a similar service in the testing stages). Finally, customers should know how these companies are planning to make a living. QIXO gets a commission from the consumer of 1%, with a cap of $10, for every referral it makes to another site that results in a booking. By contrast, Fare Chase is hoping to sell its software to other sites at a profit and therefore allows the consumer to use its services absolutely free. We suggest you do as we’ve done, and bookmark www.farechase.com and www.qixo.com today. Long live the revolution!