Hi all, we were aware of the fact that until now the estimated cost of flight prices was not all that accurate. It is and remains an estimate, so some deviation from actual prices is to be expected, after all the pricing models of carriers are intransparant and it is hard to predict whether a budget airline will fly on a certain route. Just to name some issues.
Having said that, we do want the figures we show to be useful. If for instance we quote an expected ticket price of $500 and it ends up being $550, we would be content with that. What matters is that it wasn't $800, if you get our point. Fortunately we get plenty of data in that allows us to make a better estimate of these prices. We have run a regression analysis on these and added our findings into the website. When comparing it with actual quotes of airlines and the estimate of Rome2rio we have come nearer to what it should be.
Note that this does not just affect the ticket prices (which are now quoted at the bottom of each search result), it also affects the budget categories (such as this one) where we actually combine the live calculated average hotel prices of locations with an estimated return fare, giving you a complete picture of how much a weekend stay in that place would cost you right now.
Two new features and better presentation of some existing ones have been added to Travelindicator.
The first new feature is travel cost. We have established a link with Rome2Rio to give you an indicative city-to-city (or practically door to door, if you wish) price next to each location. On the left side you see an example of how this looks for one location (Amsterdam). The left indicator shows the average hotel rate for 2 weeks from now, while the left shows you the return fare to and from your base location (Glasgow, Scotland in this case). Clicking the link gives you a breakdown of the €220 fare, which in this case consists of €14 for trains in Scotland, €200 for a return flight Glasgow-Amsterdam, and €6 for trains in Amsterdam.
Under the return fare indicator we show you some extra info; the fare for a single trip as well a the indicative fare for a return trip and stay of 2 nights based on average hotel rates. Note that flight fare information is not necessarily live but is indicative based on Rome2Rio's algorithms as described here.
In a similar vein, we now show you the duration of travelling from A to B, again calculated by Rome2Rio. The 4.3 hours breaks down to 23 minutes by train in Scotland, 16 minutes in Amsterdam, 1:30 hours by plane and the remainder (roughly 2.5 hours) taken up on both airports.
Pretty useful stuff, we thought. To make the location dashboard complete, we have improved the presentation of whether a location's hotels are currently (i.e. for bookings 2 weeks from now) discounted or at a premium, and what the expected weather (maximum temperature ranges) is like.
If you click the Budget menu option above, you get to see something like the following:
The "hotel only" option is straightforward: it shows all cities where average nightly hotel rates (2 to 5 stars) fall within a price range. Filter down on those between $0 and $100 and you will be shown locations like Dubrovnik, Taichung and Berlin. Filter down on those above $350 and it's Tokyo or Bora Bora. This looks a bit like the following:
This states the hotel price (€118), and an estimated flight price (€142). While at some stage we would love to incorporate real average ticket prices into Travelindicator, for the time being that is not technically feasible. We could have chosen to omit it altogether and function solely as a hotel price aggregator, but that is no fun is it?
So we scoured the web and came across an article at the Rome2Rio Blog. They found that air fares could be linearly approximated by the formula ticket price = $50 + 0.11 * mile. We have slightly tweaked it, but essentially we do something similar. And we find it to provide a very reasonable approximation. Its accuracy will fluctuate, but Beijing to New York is never going to cost $200.
The "Hotels (2 night) + Flight" is based on all of the above. It uses the estimation of the costs for a round trip flight, and adds to that two times the average rate for a hotel. This gives you something like this:
Note how the hotel price (€118) is unchanged, but we now also show an estimated total trip cost (€434). With this you will be perfectly able to work out the difference in cost of a city trip to Berlin or to London.
Some things to clarify: If you are staying for more than two nights, we are sorry, but you will have to do your own calculation! Using the regular search you can do just that. Also, all of this is based on your location. If you load the site from different countries, you will get different results! Of course, you can manually adjust. The city you stay in impacts results and you will have to select it by yourself.
I will be honest with you. This site is a perfect reflection of my own core interests. The first interest is probably our common denominator: I like to travel (my most recent trip in fact was last weekend, to Phuket in Thailand). The second interest is probably more specific to me: I like to puzzle, analyse data and present it to others in a format that can be of use to them.
Travel Indicator already offered you the ability to filter down on places based on distance, weather and features (mountains, shopping, culture, etcetera). It also allowed you to filter based on the average price of an overnight stay in a city, giving you an indication of how expensive a stay in a certain place would be. Today we have made a start with an additional piece of the puzzle: an estimation of the cost to get there by airplane. Imagine if you would have a database showing you up-to-date costs of flying to and staying in a certain place, and then allowing you to filter down on what those places have to offer travellers. That is what Travel Indicator has already become, and it is easy to see how useful and exciting this will be to many people!
Access the feature by showing some results, then filtering down on Total cost.
Now, hold your enthusiasm for a second. The flying costs are an estimate, and a crude estimate at that. We have looked at historical data for flight tickets, set them off against distance and come up with a simple formula that reflects historical price levels. This is far from an absolute truth, as there will be discounts and upswings and downswings in prices. Yet it should be obvious that generally speaking there is some relation between distance flown and tickets prices. This general relationship is what we are trying to incorporate, and on the whole it is expected to work better on long distances. In due time we will try to link up with a major flight ticket site to give you a real actual reflection of ticket prices. Stay tuned!
P.S. Meanwhile we have also silently added support for some additional currencies: EUR, GBP, AUD and CAD.