New innovators: comparethefare.ie
Service is geared for the home market and compares prices for Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights only
Ahead of the pack: Bob Haugh of comparethefare.ie. The new, free service will access Ryanair and Aer Lingus systems directly and show users the cheapest options between the two.
“More than 85 per cent of those leaving Ireland do so on either Ryanair or Aer Lingus and the first thing most people do when booking a flight is to go on to both sites and try to compare the fares,” says Bob Haugh, the brains behind a new, free service for the Irish travelling public called comparethefare.ie.
The service, which is just about to go live and will also be available as a smartphone app, is geared for the home market and compares prices for Ryanair and Aer Lingus flights only. It also provides information about onward journeys from airports by bus and train including timetables and fares.
“Comparison sites typically screen scrape to get their information. We wanted direct access to fare information and approached the two carriers and put our request to them,” Haugh says. “We have a long track record of dealing with both airlines and knew the right people to approach and ask for their blessing. They both came on board and that means our prices are compared based on live, accurate information from the primary source.
“Our aim is to make the comparison process as painless and as fast as possible,” he adds. “We all know from personal experience that making comparisons can take ages. It also demands a certain level of skill to flip between screens and operate filters. Not everyone has that skill. We have written our programme in a way that will make all the necessary adjustments for variables such as baggage allowances and credit card booking fees. We have permission from the airlines to interrogate their system to retrieve the final total and cheapest fare at the start of the enquiry process. Normally you only get that price at the end of the process when the airline has added all the mandatory extras.
“Flight comparison sites are well-established but few people bother in any serious way with them for short-hops. They are more likely to for long-haul destinations. However, from talking to people, we knew that if we built a good comparison site people would use it,” says Haugh who is also founder of escorted holidays company, Travel Department as well as sun-holiday booking engine ClickandGo and the recently launched GroupLeader.com
“We already have huge databases of travel information and this is our gift to the travelling public or maybe an answer to their prayers,” Haugh says. “I had been thinking about it for a while and about three months ago decided to go for it. It didn’t cost much to do, about €10,000 so far. They key piece of the jigsaw was getting the deep links.”
Haugh says that in addition to identifying the cheapest fare, which may be a combination of the two airlines, the system can do multiple route and departure/arrival time checks that will help those under time constraints.
“If you’re a skier with five days’ holiday, you want to ski on all five days. By flying out to Geneva very early on a Thursday and back from Innsbruck late on a Monday you can do this but you’d be a long time working that out on your own,” Haugh says.
“We have also added functionality such as the option to email your travel plans to friends or family and information about how to get to popular destinations not directly served by an airport. Florence for example. What we’re doing is not Earth shattering. It’s about using our expertise to bring all of the elements together in a user-friendly way. In a way, it’s so obvious you just have to ask yourself why someone didn’t do it before.”