Is This the Next Generation of Travel Search Engines?

Technology + Gear Interviews
by Alyssa James Aug 27, 2014

I’m a budgeter. I make a budget and I like to stick to it. I’m also open-minded, so when I’m planning travel I’m not always dead set on a particular destination.

When I heard about GeniusFlight, a site where you can search for flights based on your budget, I wanted to learn more about the project. Besides, I’ve always been curious about how flight comparison sites work. I ended up interviewing the founder, Gennie Freen, to find out more.

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AJ: What is the main concept behind GeniusFlight?

GF: The main concept of GeniusFlight is the ability to search by price rather than destination. This comes at a crucial point for the travel industry, as recent studies show that most Internet users will check flight comparison sites in order to achieve the best deal.

What makes GeniusFlight stand out from other travel search engines? How did you feel about competing with them?

The sheer fact that you can search by price. You only have to enter your minimum and maximum budget, your preferred dates, your departure point, and GeniusFlight will show you tons of possibilities in no time. This inspires people to try new destinations by discovering that for the same price as a flight to Paris (from Amsterdam, for example), they could set off on an adventure to Marrakech as well.

The travel market is highly competitive and for us it is a challenge to compete with all the big brands in the travel-scene and become a big brand ourselves. Therefore we thought it’s critical to have a USP [unique selling point] that sets us apart from the others.

You launched your company at the end of May this year. What types of challenges have you faced so far? What is it like being the “new kid on the block?”

Challenges are something that we willingly set for ourselves, constantly trying to improve our services and include new ones. We are shortly going to add CarHire to the Genius network and it will be based on the same simple concept: searching by price. It’s cool being the “new kid on the block” and at the same time very exciting as there’s so much room to grow.

What sorts of measures have you taken in order to meet these challenges?

Mainly, working with exceptional partners such as Skyscanner and and with qualified people and shareholders that can act fast if necessary.

What experience did you have prior to launching GeniusFlight? Was it relevant? Has launching GeniusFlight been easier or more difficult than you expected?

I’ve been very active in the couponing business for the past 17 years; in the Netherlands, we are working for big brands like Coca-Cola. This experience was very relevant because it made us realise that lots of consumers are triggered by price. We’ve also understood that products and services have to be simple. If they are not simple enough, then you lose the consumer even faster than you’ve reached him.

What sort of planning and research did you do before establishing GeniusFlight?

To tell you the truth, I did it on my own gut feeling. Some years ago, I experienced that it was very difficult or next to impossible to search for travel options based on budget, on exact dates; with most sites and apps that I was using, I was always having to fill in a destination or didn’t get what I wanted…I only wanted to go away for couple of days for €150 — and the destination was less important for me.

I spoke to about 100 people about my idea — friends, colleagues, family — and everyone was excited. Then I decided to develop it myself.

Looking back, do you think you did enough in the preparation stages before launching GeniusFlight?

When we decided to launch, we knew it was just the beginning, so of course we could have done things in different ways and have extra insights after launching. But other bigger companies continuously improve their products as well, and so do we!

What kind of support have you had in launching your company?

We’ve had tremendous support from qualified people such as developers, marketing people, and shareholders.

What can we expect from GeniusFlight in the coming months?

We are shortly going to be launching a CarHire service, which will be joining the Genius network of flights and hotels, also price based. We’re also preparing to launch an app for smartphones and we’re working to update the mobile version of the website. Finally, the desktop version is being enhanced, as we’re adding lots of new visuals. So we have plenty of things to do in the coming months.

What advice would you give someone who wants to open their own travel search engine?

If you start a travel search engine, don’t develop a “normal,” typical one, there are enough of those. Rather search for a niche that the competitors haven’t yet found.

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