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A new way to research and book RTW airfare

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Bootsnall

Yesterday we heard from our pals over at Bootsnall.com, who let us know about a brand new airfare product they launched called Indie.

Bootsnall has been around for a long time – since 1998, to be exact – and has grown a well deserved reputation as an online pioneer in the independent / backpacking travel community. So when we heard about this new launch, we were excited to kick the tires a bit to test it out, see what it is and how it works.

So what’s Indie? It’s the “world’s first multi-country flight finder.”

Simply put, for those who are aiming to take a round the world trip (and we envy you very much, thanks), researching and booking the airfare portion is a bit of a trick. There are many considerations, including the route, travel dates, wide array of airlines to choose from, and layovers to name just a few.

Furthermore, due to this complexity most RTW flight tickets require travelers to work directly with travel agents or submit pricing requests to ticket suppliers who then quote rates within 24-48 hours. Which, given the cost of a RTW ticket, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

But Bootsnall is squarely targeting travelers who want to get pricing information immediately and like being able to rapidly change and edit routes to compare their options.

We gave Indie a test, using our dream trip (NYC > Paris > Rome > Casablanca (why not?) > Moscow > Bali > San Francisco > NYC) and pressed “search fares.”

What followed was pretty slick — a very visual map-based display of the entire trip with a breakdown of all the carriers involved, simple editing tools to easily update the route and see revised pricing info, and one final price for the entire trip.

We’ll admit it: RTW airfare search is not our specialty. However, having built a search platform for budget hotels in Europe, we know a thing or two about the effort, patience and hair-pulling required to turn a product concept like this into a reality. And from what we see, Bootsnall’s Indie is a very helpful platform for travelers looking to research airfare prices for their dream trip.

With all of this in mind, we checked in with Sean Keener, Bootsnall’s Co-founder and CEO, to say congrats and to learn a little more about Indie’s capabilities and some of the context surrounding why they decided to build it.

EuroCheapo:

Congrats on the launch of Indie, Sean. Tell us, at what point did you say, “Hey, this is a product we need to build?”

Sean Keener:

Thanks guys.

We’ve been asking ourselves, “Why isn’t instant pricing and online booking for 6+ stops available anywhere?” for 10+ years.  We always wanted SOMEONE to build it, we didn’t know it could be us until about 2 years ago…when I started asking more questions on “how”.

Once we assembled a team of people that felt it could be done, that’s when I started to think, we need to “try” – not knowing at the time if we could or would be able to.

EC:

What’s the biggest benefit of using Indie for budget travelers, rather than buying point to point tickets individually well ahead of time?

SK:

There’s a lot of benefits and it depend on each traveler’s situation.

We make it easy – planning and trying to string together point to point tickets, even for the most grizzled vet, is not always an easy process.  Do connections work? Will I have to do 10 different transactions? Is the routing I’m picking optimized?  Can I add more stops for less money?  Indie does all of this, so you don’t have to.

You’re working with BootsnAll, a company with 15 years experience in helping travelers plan these sorts of trips. So you are tapped into THE community that focuses on this type of travel.

Pricing – we are competitive, and many times the best fare out there. (Not always of course.)

You value your time – with instant pricing, you are saving yourself time. One traveler said we are “1000x” better than what’s out there.  For folks that have done this before, you’d understand because the process of getting one quote is so time consuming.  Now you can do 100 prices in 1 hour.  The time it took to generate this much pricing before Indie was simply unavailable.

EC:

Anything else in store for 2013 that you can give us some hints about?

SK:

Sure.  We’ll be rolling out new and improved versions of Indie.  We usually update the software a few times per month with bug fixes and new features.

We’ll be updating our popular Around the World Airfare Report to include Indie and have a 3rd party audit it since our product will be included in the next version.

We also have an idea for February that we will most likely do – and that is a “Plan your RTW trip in 30 days” lesson.  It will be a simple, step by step process to help folks navigate the process of planning this sort of trip.  It’s not that hard…and it’s worth it.  Why?  From my perspective, Indie Travel is the best way to get an education.

EC:

Exciting stuff all around. Good luck with Indie’s launch and thanks for giving us the inside scoop on what else is cooking over at Bootsnall!

About the author

Pete Meyers

About the author: An Ohio native, Pete Meyers was bred on family road trips and the Beach Boys. When not working at EuroCheapo HQ in NYC, Pete likes to be found eating bouillabaisse anywhere in the south of France.

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