Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Trying out TripIt - "a problem with your TripIt submission"

I had a chance to try TipIt and have put together a review. You will recall that TripIt is the well funded booking organiser startup that gained some fame as being the only travel company to make it into the Techcrunch40 list. The theory is that you email all your travel booking vouchers/invoices and confirmation emails to a central TripIt email (plans@tripit.com) and the service would magically combine it all into one itinerary that can be shared, printed and generally Web2.0ed all over the place

I had wondered in my earlier post how the TripIt technology would go about "reading" all of the different forms of confirmation emails (especially pdfs) that travel companies send.

I conducted a test by sending through to the TripIt mail all the details from a recent trip to Melbourne made up of a Virginblue flight voucher, RatesToGo.com hotel voucher and Melbourne Skybus airport transfer ticket.

Unfortunately, the common response to each of these three emails to TripIt was
We received your email (Subject Line: [whatever the booking was]) but had a problem processing it. This typically happens when your email is not from one of our currently supported booking sites or when your TripIt To Me text isn't in the right format (for help with TripIt To Me, send an email with a blank subject line and the word "help" in the body to plans@tripit.com and we'll respond with a list of available commands).

We placed your email into the Unfiled Items section of your account as an unformatted Note for your review. Please follow this link to login to view your Note.

Happy Travels!

The TripIt Team
support@tripit.com
Not a great first time user experience. It is clear that the confirmation information has to be in a very set format or from the list of supported vendors. There is a good number of companies on the supported list (here) including biggies Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline as well as major airlines and leading LCCs such as easyJet and Ryanair. However there also a lot of well known brands missing such as lastminute.com, Accor.com, Qantas, Booking.com, HotelClub.com and Venere.com.

The site is still in beta so there is reason to be forgiving. However customers give very few second changes to content/mashup based websites - even those in beta. My conclusion therefore remains the same - great idea but the execution needs to be flawless for the business to work. That is a big ask for any travel start up, even a well funded one. Anyone else have a TripIt experience to share?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We actually came up with a similar idea and called it MARBIG.

It takes all kinds of printouts and documents and receipts and then allows you to file them in a multitude of places including a "filing cabinet" as well as a desk top top, and also a desk draw.

But apparently somebody else did it first.


What is wrong wit the world today.

Sam I Am said...

Looks like you had exactly the same experience I did and documented over at http://blog.travellerspoint.com/141/

Cut away all the fluff and the system just doesn't work. With the variety of confirmation types available, and increasing quickly as api enabled bookings mean more formats, I wouldn't put a dime into a company like this unless it was using humans to actually parse the incoming emails... and that just plain defeats the point!

Duncan | Syrup&Tang said...

I'm surprised that TripIt's algorithms are so simple. From the blurb, i'd assumed some sort of intelligent filtering/associating of data based on proximity or layout, etc. Seems like it's just using a template system. Pity.

Gregg said...

Hi Tim,

I’m the president and co-founder of TripIt and am very pleased to see you giving TripIt’s beta a try.

To address your comments, TripIt currently supports roughly 90 booking sources which represent a large percentage of travel bookings worldwide and we are busy adding more each week. Last week we announced support for rail (Amtrak, Via, Eurostar, etc.) and restaurants (OpenTable), two of our most requested enhancements. It’s unfortunate that in your first try you picked 3 suppliers that we don’t currently support, but we have a full list at www.tripit.com/uhp/supportedVendors . VirginBlue is nearing the top of our list to add as we work through our backlog of requests.

Anyway, one of the exciting developments for us is to see how much interest our venture has generated outside the United States. Travel is a global industry, but we didn’t expect in our first weeks to be so popular in so many countries around the world. As you can imagine, this presents a number of challenges that we are working through to make our service less “US-centric”. You will see us adding features to better accommodate our non-US travelers with each release. (I don’t want to disappoint my Australian friends as I definitely want return to Australia sometime soon. The Margaret River area remains one of my all-time favorite destinations for wine tasting and windsurfing.)

Finally, as you correctly point out we don’t currently support PDF formats, which is why we don’t have full support for suppliers like Quantas, Virgin Blue, etc. However, even though I don’t like to pre-announce features, we have news on this front coming. I’ll let you know when it goes live so you can try for yourself. You can also follow our progress on our blog at http://blog.tripit.com

Again, thanks for your comments. We are “beta” in the old school sense of the term, meaning we really want feedback to help drive our product roadmap.

Cheers,
Gregg Brockway

president & co-founder
TripIt
www.tripit.com

Tim Hughes said...

Greg - thanks for your note back. Am going to keep tracking the product and look forward to hearing more. Let me know at timsboot [at] gmail [dot] com if you have time for an interview