Hipmunk, the flight and hotel search startup known for its snazzy user interfaces, has done it again. The company today is rolling out a new integration for its mobile apps with popular calendar applications (right now it works with iCal, Google Calendar, and Microsoft Outlook.) Essentially, this makes the often odious task of searching for travel transportation and accommodation just a bit easier and more plugged-in to the way many modern web aficionados function today.
What the new calendar integration means for users is this: If you choose to plug your calendar app of choice into Hipmunk, it will overlay your flight and hotel search results with your existing calendar entries. Not sure if you should take the 2pm flight or the 4pm flight? Hipmunk will let you know if you have a conflict penciled in on your calendar, to make the decision a bit easier.
The handiness of the calendar integration really flexes its muscles with the hotel search function. Now when you’re looking at potential hotels overlaid on a map in the Hipmunk app, it will also highlight nearby places where you have existing appointments during the same days when you’re booking the hotel. So, for example, if you’re attending a conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center, looking at the Hipmunk app will show that it might not be the wisest idea to book a hotel across the city in the Outer Sunset district — even though it also has a San Francisco address. This kind of information has of course been accessible before, but it’s nice to have the trip planning features all tied up into one application.
From a privacy perspective, Hipmunk says it has taken care to make sure users know that the app update is totally on the up-and-up. None of your calendar entries get uploaded to Hipmunk’s servers — the data is only used within your searches on the app at the time you conduct them.
In all, the additions complement Hipmunk’s existing offerings very well. And in a world where air travel prices keep creeping higher and higher (with little hope of reprieve), improvements like the ones that Hipmunk are making will help separate it from the other apps out there, especially among the set of early-adopting folks — many of whom will continue to be able to afford plane tickets and hotel rooms. For a long time, Hipmunk has been all about the UI and the user experience, and it seems that that focus will continue to pay off going forward.
We talked to Hipmunk co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas last month during TechCrunch TV’s live show. It was a bit hectic at the time, but we managed to get some good insights from Goldstein about Hipmunk as a company and where the travel app space is headed in general at the moment. You can check out our talk in the interview embedded below: