I have probably booked every single trip I have ever taken as an adult online (except for most of the trips I took within Asia while living in Penang, Malaysia), which leads me to wonder two things: 1) How do travel agencies stay in business and 2) Why has it taken so long to see smart improvements being made to online travel search and booking tools? In any case, here are a few examples of great design and thinking that Ive come across lately:
All Around Great Design:
First, I was linked to the Cologne airport website this morning and think its one of the best websites Ive seen in a long time. Theyve thought everything through, including having current departures and arrivals, parking availability, and prices updating frequently.
The homepage (above) shows the most recent schedule front and center and has its main navigation shown with clear and easy to understand text and icons.
You can even check on the availability of parking (above) on the site!
You can access the most up-to-date flight timetable (above) on the site, too.
The tourism page (above) uses nice, bright and clear icons to represent the information it provides.
Smart, Helpful Details:
Sidestep.com is another site that helps you search for available flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. Ive been really impressed with its simple design and some of the small details that become quite helpful once you start using the site.
The screenshot above shows the search tool on the Sidestep homepage. I love how it auto-fills the city you are searching for and doesnt require you to click to another page to figure out its airport code.
The search results shown above include a simple matrix view that shows the cheapest fares from among all its data.
I love this little detail shown above. You can mouse over one of the return flight options in your search results and filter all the results based upon that time slot. Who wouldnt use this??
Not Necessarily Pretty, But Pretty Cool:
This last site is a local one- the Triangle Transit Authoritys website. Its not the most attractive in the world, but it has a great search tool that takes real life into account.
Using the search tool, you can specify any address you want and even how much you want to walk, the speed with which you walk, and how much time you think you need between transfers in order to narrow your results.
The detail above shows how simple the search results are. I love how they not only show the total time, including the total distance youll have to walk, but it also shows the order in which youll use various forms of transportation on your trip. Very Cool!
Heres a link to CNNs Top 25 Travel Web Sites.