Kayak.com wants to be the Google of the travel industry. They don’t actually sell or book anything; instead, Kayak is a travel search engine, an information collector which combs over 400 travel sites to find the best deal within the kind of information you’re looking for. When you’re ready to book, they take you directly to the airline, hotel or other site making the offer so you can close the deal. Kayak makes its money from the sites you click on to purchase your tickets and reservations.
Kayak’s web site is quite plain, with no decorative bells and whistles, just all business. Click on “flights,” for example, type your travel plans in the ‘from’ and ‘to’ field, enter the dates and hit “Search.” Up comes a listing of all available flights, with the price, airline, dates and times. Below each listing is the name of the company from whom the offer is available. When we entered the destination of Cabo San Lucas from Salt Lake City, Utah, leaving in the middle of December, we got 247 roundtrip results.
Options are pretty much unlimited, since Kayak offers information gathered from the entire internet. This eliminates the need for hours of searching. In addition, some online travel sites don’t list every airline or every hotel chain, but Kayak will find another site that does have that listing, helping you cut to the search without wasting your time looking for what you want.
The uncomplicated web site is extremely efficient and easy to use. Since all Kayak does is lead you to other sites, they don’t really have to offer support, but they do, and it’s excellent. There’s a feedback site where you can contact the company about problems. Click “Contact Us,” and you get an automated message with the phone number for Kayak’s home office, and transfer extensions for everyone from the CEO on down. The transfers work. We pressed the CEO’s extension, and were transferred to his voice mail (It was after 5:00 pm). We didn’t leave a message.
On every page where you enter your travel plans, whether it’s Flights, Deals or Cruises, there’s a link where you can register to save your search history. This can save hours of frustration when trying to look for the deal you previously found that turned out to be the best one of all. You can also click to go to other major sites like Expedia, Priceline or Travelocity and compare the rates they’re offering to the rate charts found and shown by Kayak.
The KAYAK Traveler link at the bottom of the page shows airfare sales, unusual top tens (like the top ten haunted hotels), landmarks, hotel/bed and breakfast reviews, related comments on Twitter and esoteric information like the best ‘green’ hotels. There’s also an iPhone app which lets you do your travel searching on your phone.
Kayak is great for those who want to book a flight quick. It's a travel search engine, letting you enter what you want, then directing you to the online travel site offering the best deal for what you require. Two extras that make Kayak special: you can do a side-by-side comparison of other online travel site's offerings to Kayak's best deal, and you can save all your searches and go back to them later in case a previous search turned out to be the best one after all.