Bargain Travel: The “Hopper” App

“Hopper” – A Quick Review

Over the past few days a few of the news aggregator apps I use have been bombarding me with short blogs about how awesome “Hopper” is. I thought I’d download it and have a look at how well it performs against my own “database” of flight price trends to destinations I’m interested in.

What is “Hopper”?

If you haven’t read about it here’s a potted summary.
“Hopper” uses a background database of flight prices to offer you a four-colour scale of flight prices to your choice of destination. It will help you identify “cheap” days to fly and give you a comparison of other days where flights may be lower. It ultimately will let you select flights and then divert you to a booking site so you can buy those tickets. It’s a free app, and that’s how Hopper makes money, referral to flight bookings, so while Hopper may be neutral they’ll only be showing flights being sold by their Affiliate program.

Does it work?

I’m not convinced that the database they have is incredibly well populated outside of the major US routes. For Asian trips it was able to find and link-up flights OK but the “intelligence” on best days to buy and long-term seasonal trends they promote just wasn’t there. I think once more people start using the App it will drive up the quality of the statistical information. In short it works, but it doesn’t work better than having a few basic searches and notifications set up in “Skyscanner” or or any other App/Website as you still need to have an idea on where and when you want to travel. What “Hopper” told me in 5 minutes I could match on Skyscanners website in 5 minutes.

What does this mean for a Bargain Traveller?

The App could help you quickly narrow into a bargain ticket for a “new” destination that you’re not familiar with researching. It also could easily exclude the “best” combination of flights and deals by having a preference for point to point flights booked on a single ticket, not multi-ticket, multi-hop options that to me really match the name “Hopper”. At the end of the day the App is a vehicle to bind into the Travelocity/Expedia and probably other Flight Sales Affiliate programs so your pricing and route options will be based on those players and how they’re willing to book tickets.
The App is also USD based and as such EVERY booking defaults to USD. This makes comparison easy, but you have to remember currency conversion takes place at every level. Once you leave the App to book a flight the providers website or App can change the currency to match your local currency, and in at least one of the samples it also hiked up the offered ticket price considerably more than the USD:AUD conversion.

In Summary?

If you need to take trips at very short notice and don’t get enough time to adequately research flight pricing cycles then this App _may_ help you find cheaper days to fly. It’s still biased by the need the need of the App developers to generate flow-through sales through their Affiliate providers and may not give 100% coverage of route/flight options.
It’s no substitute for doing your own detailed research over a few weeks using other resources and breaking down your route options to explore multi-ticket or multi-hop scenarios.
In almost every case I was able to utilise other search tools to get a better deal for the flights suggested (once currency conversion took place). This is because the Affiliate program the “Hopper” guys use is not consistently the “cheapest” of the many hundreds of options. (I used the DoHop aggregator as my base reference for this test – noting that it’s not always the cheapest either).

As I’ve said there’s no substitute for research of your own, and “Hopper” can form part of it.

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Geek, Car Guy, Former entrepreneur looking for the next big thing while doing the things I should have done 20 years ago. Key pusher and thinker for a large organisation who dreams to be doing something else.

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