It’s a bit cliché, but it’s true all the same: the best features are often the ones that make you smack yourself on the forehead and ask why you didn’t think of them (or why nobody else did).
Which the reaction I immediately had when I heard about a new feature that Hipmunk, the flight and hotel travel search engine, is launching this morning. Today the service is adding support for Google Calendar integration, which means it can check its flight listings against your schedule to figure out which ones will work best for you.
Now, calendar syncing is hardly a new concept for travel sites — many of them will let you automatically sync your booked flights and reservations into your calendar. But Hipmunk says that it’s the first travel site to delve into your schedule and find potential conflicts to help you book those flights in the first place.
The interface, which you can see in the screenshots below, makes this pretty straightforward: once you’ve entered your Google Calendar credentials, you’ll see vertical yellow-tinged bars hovering over Hipmunk’s flight search grid. Obviously not all of your scheduled events will warrant changing your flight plans, so you can ignore them if you’d like. Or you can hit the ‘sort by Conflict’ button, which will actually hide any flights that overlap with any of your commitments.
Likewise, Hipmunk will look at your calendar to figure out where your meetings and events are located, which it can use to suggest hotels that are convenient.