How much control is a leisure traveler willing to cede to an airline to decide where he or she goes? A new web distribution channel for airline tickets, backed by funders that include one of the investors behind Groupon, is about to test that proposition and believes it can generate an additional $100 million to $200 million a year in revenue for major carriers.
GetGoing.com, which has been in the works for about a year, just launched in the beta test phase. It lets users select two destinations they’d like to go to—selecting regions or trip types if they need help narrowing their options—and then offers airline deals for both, showing flight times and price. But the customer has to make a nonrefundable payment before finding out which of the two trips he or she will get for it. (For an example of the type of choice a consumer will see, take a look at the screenshot at the bottom of this post.)
GetGoing believes it can deliver $100 million-$200 million in additional revenue for major carriers, $40 million-$70 million for mid-size airlines and $20 million for smaller airlines, assuming its offerings enable airlines to raise their load factors by about 1 percentage point. The company says its estimates are based on airlines that it is working with already.
The website just launched in six cities with offerings for more than 400 destinations worldwide—which, of course, it hopes to increase on both counts. It believes the model will appeal to carriers because they get to decide where the traveler goes—funneling customers to their unsold seats—and can target a subset of customers who are definitively leisure vacation travelers. That is because people visiting friends and relatives will have a specific place they need to go, as will business travelers.
Founder and CEO Alek Vernitsky says GetGoing.com has been in the works for a year and the company has talked to about 40 airlines, a handful of which have decided to participate in the beta testing.