Flight Centre recently sent two teams to tHack in San Francisco, a unique gathering that brings together travel industry developers to showcase new digital travel products and web or mobile-based tools.
"Presenting our idea in San Francisco was exciting. The whole tHack event was a great way to experience how the industry is trying to push the boundaries of the online travel experience," said Rob Holcombe, a Flight Centre Senior Web Analyst.
Rob, together with Tom Kyte, Flight Centre’s Webmaster entered their idea into the, ‘teams of two people,’ category.
"Our idea was a fully integrated Itinerary Planner (called Trip Planner) which recommended flights, nearby hotels and activities based on your destination and interests. The Trip Planner pulled through Flights, Hotels, Activities and transport/directions between these based on your destination of interest," said Rob.
"The aim of Trip Planner was to take the hassle out of researching and planning a trip by giving the customer all the content they need in the one place. By using our recommendation engine, customers would be guided through the research/plan/book phase, almost like they had a virtual travel expert with them at every step in the process."
In the category of, ‘teams of three or more,’ Designer Nafisa Sabu, and Developers Warwick Cox and Craig Moussa entered their concept, which revolved around budgeting travel using a visual timeline.
In the week preceding the event, Warwick spent around 130 hours outside his standard work obligations to prepare the demonstration dubbed iPlanTrip.me
"iPlanTrip, as the name implies, allows you to plan your entire trip on your mobile device while sharing it with the people you are going with. Our core focus was setting out the timeline and budget in the most user friendly way possible. Trying to make something complex - simple," said Warwick.
"Additionally, you can do multiple timelines to compare locations and deals with your budget."
Nafisa, Warwick and Craig were awarded Runner’s Up in their category.
"The Flight Centre team did a wonderful job of focusing on the visual design elements and translating that into a simple solution. The iPlanTrip core of a visual budget meter is an elegant way to see cost as well as individual elements of the trip and their contribution towards the total," said the Judges.
"Additionally, the team was able to integrate the searching mechanism for several parts of the trip into this production product during the hack, an impressive development feat. Finally, it was designed for multiple platforms, especially mobile. We were impressed with the mobile-led design as a core element to a trip planning product."
The team were delighted with their efforts and the opportunity of participating in San Francisco.
"tHack was a lot of hard work but it was also loads of fun. I enjoyed meeting other leading companies in the travel industry, and the creators of some of the API's we used. It was also cool to have other industry professionals come up to us saying they loved our app," said Nafisa.