Travel search startup Hipmunk is launching its first paid product today — Hipmunk Business Class, which offers extra features designed for assistants, office managers, and other folks who have to book trips for multiple businesses travelers.
CEO Adam Goldstein tells me he originally designed the site as a response to his own personal travel experiences, with the expectation that it would be used mostly for leisure travel, but feedback and data is showing that there are users who find Hipmunk “way more useful in a business context.” After all, one of Hipmunk’s key insights is the fact that some people aren’t just looking for the cheapest way to book a flight, and instead may care more about reducing their “agony” by avoiding things like red-eye flights and multiple layovers. That probably resonates if you’re an assistant booking a flight for a business executive, where you care more about agony (or at least convenience) than price.
The biggest addition in Hipmunk Business Class is a new process for approving travel. Previously, if you wanted to make reservations for someone else on Hipmunk, you probably ran a search, made a list of likely flights, and then copied the details into an email. Then, once they’d chosen a flight, you’d redo the search, select the flight again, and purchase the tickets.
Now, Hipmunk has streamlined that process — you can automatically create an email listing any of the flights that you want to include, and the recipient can hit an “approve” button from directly within that email to make their selection. Once they do, their assistant (or whoever) gets a notification that takes them directly to the right flight on the Hipmunk site.
Other features include integration with Outlook calendars (Hipmunk already integrated with Google), so you can see someone’s schedules and remove any flights that conflict with existing meetings. When you’re booking a hotel, Hipmunk Business Class can also bring up a map showing where a hotel is in relation to someone’s scheduled meetings, allowing you to ensure that you don’t accidentally book them in an inconvenient location. And you can save different travel preferences, like their favorites airlines and hotels, for different users.
Goldstein says there are no plans to develop paid products for other customer groups. It made sense in this case, he says, because assistants made up a significant part of the Hipmunk customer base (the company estimates that about one-third of its traffic comes from business travelers), they had needs for specific features that probably wouldn’t get used by everyone else, and at small and medium businesses, many assistants are probably paying $25 or $35 per phone call to book travel with various agencies. So developing a paid product seemed like a good way to justify the investment in new features.
This is probably one of the big product announcements that was promised when Hipmunk raised a $15 million Series B last month.
Hipmunk Business Class will cost $10 per month, after a 60-day trial period. You can read more here.