New spanish travel aggregator Minube.com launched today!

23 07 2007

Logo MiNube.comSurprisingly the Spanish online travel market is not saturated by the emergence of aggregation and comparison engines; there is still space for newcomer(s) to enter this segment of the online travel industry. That’s what Minube.com (that literally means “My Cloud” in Spanish) did today by launching this new flight/hotel aggregator “Minube”.

Comparador Mi nube

Minube.com referred itself as being a web 2.0 site. A simple, clean and original design with green, red and orange clouds! It uses features that made Web 2.0 sites so convenient such as the suggestion search box; as you type in a query it will display the available cities/countries/airports dynamically via some AJAX. Pretty useful when you don’t know how to spell those Spanish cities or when you don’t know the airport name of your destination.

Of course it also integrates maps from Google maps (I did not manage to see the mapping of all hotels of the first page of result on one map), and reviews (reviews are not moderated yet). The good thing is there are no reviews on the system yet, it starts from scratch. One of the problems of Tripadvisor is that they are still showing client reviews that are very old, totally outdated although the owner/management team of the hotel has changed or the hotel has been fully renovated.

Mi Nube hotels

As a traditional travel aggregator, Minube compares the prices of a lot of different travel agencies (Atrapalo, eDreams, TerminalA, MuchoViaje etc.), airlines (low cost airline such as Vueling, Clickair) or hotel portals, and shows the best price found (with no additional fees).

The page of results of a hotel search is very similar to SideStep results page, as there is a slider control to determine the “price range” that you can adjust according to your budget/needs. I did a comparison between Sidestep and Minube for the same date (last minute booking) in Barcelona and I was pretty happy of the results; specially because Minube found many more hotels with cheap rates. This is no surprise as they already work with a lot of local providers (see paragraph below).

Here is an extensive list of the hotel providers, airlines, and online travel agencies that Minube partnered with:

 

Minube Providers

All in all, after I spent 15 minutes playing with this new aggregator, I felt pretty impressed by this beta version of Minube. They start with a good design, a lot of partners (even though some are missing), and good web 2.0 functionalities and features (recent searches, travel fair, filters of travel agencies, event calendar). It definitely has its place among its Spanish competitors, HotelAdicto, Trabber, Tsales (any other I missed?). I believe they will be launching a version for the french market soon called MonNuage.fr according to what I read on their blog. Congratulations!

PS: I havent had time to try the “alert engine” but I already like the idea. I believe it is similar to what Orbitz does, by keeping searching for the price and dates you have requested and sending you an alert by email once it has been found! I’ll try this tomorrow but I needed first to share this with you.

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Clickair, the spanish low-cost airline will spread its wings in oct. 2006

23 08 2006

There have been speculations about the name of the new spanish low cost of Clickair logoIberia; formerly called Catair, the final name of the low-cost will be Clickair. Why choosing such a brand name? Basically because it will use the internet as a primary sales tool.

The budget airline has its headquarters in Madrid, but will operate from its Barcelona hub (Prat airport).

Clickair website

Ownership? Iberia owns parts of Catair Lineas Aereas (Clickair); it equally shares ownership (20% for each of the 5 owners) with the spanish Tour Operator Iberostar, Cobra, Quercus Equity (Grupo ACS – a spanish construction company), and Nefinsa group (Nefinsas being the owner of Air Nostrum).

Flying destinations? Clickair has confirmed it will start to fly to 12 destinations – 8 international cities: Amsterdam, Dublin, Geneva, Zurich, Prague, Lisbon, Oporto, Moscow, and 4 spanish cities: Bilbao, Malaga, Seville and Valencia. For the moment it will not fly to Madrid.

Fleet? The airline will start its activity with a fleet of 3 Airbus A320-200, then it will add an aircraft each month; the fleet size is expected to be around 30 aircrafts in 2008 and Clickair expects to reach up to 70 destination by 2008.

What’s new?The good news is that unlike many other low-cost carriers, Clickair will only fly to the main airports of the cities it serves (hence no extra transportation costs for the budget travelers..

Belonging to Iberia, Clickair will be run as a separate company however Clickair’s passengers will benefit from the Iberia Plus loyalty program. Clickair will also share flight codes with Iberia, meaning that Clickair fares won’t only be sold on internet but also through the GDSs, following a different approach from the traditional low-cost strategy.
Rumors say that passengers will be offered theather and theme park tickets on board.

What’s next? For the moment we are still waiting for the launch of the website; bad move for a company which is already created, announced and ready to go. Anyway I logically expect Iberostar to provide much of the hotel product of the coming website.

Any direct competitors? Barcelona-based Vueling and Air Madrid are direct local competitors, but also Ryan Air since Clickair has decided to open a route between Barcelona and Dublin. I guess Ryan Air should take Clickair seriously since Ryan Air lands its flights far from Barcelona center (In Girona, 103km from Barcelona city center) when Clickair lands at Barcelona’s main airport. EasyJet, which has announced the opening of new routes in Spain is a seen as a tough competitor too.

According to Europa Press, the booking system that will be used on the website is Open Skies developped by Navitaire (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accenture). This technology is also used by RyanAir, German Wings and VirginExpress just to name a few..

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