I’ve got some extra vacation time to spend this year. I’d like to travel somewhere, but I don’t have any ideas. For the longest time I really wanted an app to show me all the places I can go from my local airport on a given week, but no one had anything like this. Recently, however, I have been blown away by the Kayak iPad app, which does just that, plus price range and temperature range sliders, and even checkboxes for pastimes like skiing, golf, beach, etc. It’s amazing.
But what I really want, and I suspect there are clever people coding this as I type, is a way to combine information from my social networks, primarily Facebook, with flight searches to find the best deals to go see my friends.
One destination on my shortlist is a major US city, and I think there’s a pretty good chance that there is some classmate of mine that I would enjoy sharing a beer or dinner with is probably living in that city. There are already Facebook applications to do this, of course, but the few I have tried do not work very well.
But here’s where I want the technology to go…
I want to see flight offers to destination cities where I have friends. Ideally I could rank my friends (privately, of course) in order of whom I’d most like to visit soon. I’d also like to see prices for them to come see me.
Here’s where it gets more complex. I want to see destinations where relatively cheap flights from my airport and my friend’s airport arrive and depart around the same time. If there’s a cheap weekend deal from Bilbao, Spain (my airport), to Paris and also from Sofia, Bulgaria (where I have a friend), to Cairo, Egypt, arriving the same afternoon and departing the same morning a couple days later, I want to know about it.
The same as before, but with multiple friends from multiple departure cities. Say I have a group of four friends from Cincinnati, Miami, Phoenix and Houston, and we want to get together for a week somewhere that’s not Las Vegas; what destinations and dates would be good?
At the moment, this level of search combinatorics is only possible through very painstaking trial-and-error meanderings through the search space, either by a consumer or by a travel agent. But one day in the near future, flight information and social networks will collide to provide some interesting results. I’m looking forward to seeing them.