Without a doubt, TripIt is one of the best online travel tools I’ve come across. With very little effort, TripIt creates consolidated travel itineraries including air, hotel, and car, enabling automatic calendar integration and sharing. They even introduced an iPhone app, putting the itinerary, along with helpful links to maps and flight tracking, right in your pocket whether online or off. The company cleverly combs forwarded confirmation emails from just about every travel company and web site, extracting the pertinent bits.
I’ve become a TripIt ambassador, inviting all of my co-workers and close friends to join in. But free services have their limits, and I have long wondered how TripIt would monetize their business. The company has been partnering with airlines (like Virgin America) and airport shuttle services, but partnerships don’t keep the lights on. Eventually the company would have to find a way to make money.
The answer arrived in my inbox this morning. TripIt is introducing an optional “TripIt Pro” version which adds automatic monitoring of itineraries, notifying if your flight is delayed, for example, as well as mobile alerts. This version will cost end-users $9.95 per month (once the trial period ends).
Although I love TripIt, I’m not sure if this upgrade is worth nearly $120 per year. Airlines already send alerts of delayed or cancelled flights to my phone via email or SMS. I trust that TripIt’s alerts will be more uniform and helpful, but I doubt they’ll be that much better. For now, I’m holding off on TripIt Pro.
The company does have plans to add alternate flight options in the future, which might start adding serious value. If they can say “go to the Delta counter within the next 10 minutes to get re-booked to Boston” I’d be all over it! I’d also like to see better integration with Exchange and iPhone calendars than the current simple ICS subscription. But let’s think bigger than this.
As a frequent flier, I’d love it if TripIt could help manage my airline and hotel mileage accounts. What if it suggested ways of maximizing their value, keeping track of upgrade “stickers” and the like? What if the company monitored the latest mileage promotions? I’d also love it if they included airport tips, like which restaurant at Chicago O’Hare serves edible food (Maccaroni Grill near gate K2) and where to find a power outlet (in the outermost corridor between E and F). TripIt already points to SeatGuru’s amazing aircraft information, but how about integrating this information right into the itinerary? And I’d love to see a combination of TripIt and Kayak!
What do you think? What can TripIt add to make its Pro service worthwhile to the frequent flier?