Hunting for deals on flights can be a soul-sucking (not to mention wallet-draining) endeavour. But what if instead of obsessively checking Expedia every day for two weeks, reluctantly pulling the trigger, and later realising you may not have gotten the best price, you could get personalised deals sent to your phone via push notification? That’s the new option Hopper, a flight booking app first launched in 2007, is offering. The company’s so-called “Secret Fares” feel poised to be a game-changer, especially if you’re the type of traveler who likes to book flights months in advance and isn’t picky about which airline you ride with.
While similar services do already exist, there are a few key things that make Hopper’s programme unique. For one, it’s breaking away from the popular “flash sale” model by providing deals up to 100 days in advance and keeping those prices available for a month. So if, say, you’re planning a trip but are waiting to get your next pay cheque before you book, there’s no reason to panic that the price will suddenly go up (phew!). And while some other sites will offer jaw-dropping deals but fail to be forthcoming about the specifics of what you’re getting — like that your flight happens to leave at 6 a.m. from the most inconveniently-located airport in your area — Hopper is adamant that their customers know exactly what they’re getting before they buy.
“PriceLine was famous ten years ago for these opaque deals where you would see something and you would purchase it but you didn’t really know what you were buying. We give you the flight number, the airline, the departure time, everything,” head of growth Dakota Smith tells Refinery29.
To launch the product, Hopper has partnered with airlines like Air Canada, LATAM, Turkish, WestJet, Copa, and Air China flying from various locations in the US to destinations like Barcelona, Tokyo, Paris, and Costa Rica. Beta testers have already saved up to £370 on individual flights, which means if you’re still considering taking that splashy international trip this summer, it’s worth checking out.
But how, you may be wondering, does it all work? Getting great, exclusive deals on international flights through personalised notifications on your phone may seem too good to be true, but according to Smith, the Hopper model is actually a win-win for airlines and customers alike. Because the deals are mobile-only, participating airlines can offer lower prices without prompting competitors to lower their own prices accordingly, which means that they’re able to charge less without fear of upending their profit margins.
“If [airlines] lower prices on Expedia or on [their] website, the other company’s revenue management software is gonna see that and lower their prices too,” says Smith. “So these fares, because it’s mobile-only and distributed through push notification, are secret to other airlines. Airlines are able to lower their prices by ten percent…without starting a price competition that negates the share.”
A way for bargain-hungry travellers and major airlines to live symbiotically? We never thought we’d see the day, but now that it's here, please excuse us while we begin readying our out of office messages.