Recently I was asked by Travelgrove, a meta-search engine that helps users find cheap offers on airfare, hotels and car rentals, cruise deals, and vacation packages, to give a review of their Web site. The following is an unbiased, objective review of their services.
The front page of Travelgrove jumps out as slightly overwhelming, with loads of information coming at you all at once. There are deals over on the right and advice columns as you scroll down, with text all over the page. However, a quick adjustment of the eyes and you're quickly at ease with all of the information. Really, it's no more overloaded with information than a Web site like STA Travel or Kayak, though Kayak is definitely simpler.
Focus along the lead banner and you'll find your options for how this site can help you find cheap deals. Namely, Travelgrove focuses on airfare, hotels, car rental, cruises, vacation packages, deals, and also includes sections with a travel community and travel tips. While I feel that the sections with the travel community and tips aren't as comprehensive as a network like Matador, they definitely add a depth to a cheap offers Web site that helps the user look into their purchase. On the other hand, it's not too common that a shopper will go to a Web site designed to give them good deals to do their research. That step will usually be taken care of well before a plane ticket is about to be bought.
In my experience in trying to find cheap airfare, whether in the U.S., Europe, or South America, it has always been important to compare prices, timetables, and availability. Not all sites manage these three things efficiently. I feel as though Travelgrove fits in with these categories. It's not to say that it's a bad Web site, but this issue still needs to be worked out with all sites. On a random search for flights from Buenos Aires to Boston, no results were found, though the search time was fast. I tried again with New York to Boston, knowing there would be many flights for this set. Yet again, no flights were found.
Looking back through the homepage there are numerous flights available, though when trying to find the actual flight you see listed, you are redirected to another Web site which has the original offer. This isn't too uncommon, though it is a nuisance when you are trying to find a cheap flight quickly. The Web site loads well, but adds time in that you have to search through so many options. Time and again as I search for the cheapest flights, the last thing I want to do is click on multiple links and hope I'm reading correctly. What I want is to type in Departure, Arrival, and see what my options are without delay.
One section with Cheap Flights to Los Angeles, for example, will give you many options on cheap flights to Los Angeles from numerous cities in the United States and Canada. It also lists the airlines which you would be flying with, which is useful if you have a grudge against a certain airline for whatever reason. Furthermore, the side banners are complete with pictures of the location and tips or articles related to the topic. How often you'll check those is debatable, but they are there nonetheless.
Lastly, there is a section with travel guides. I have reviewed the guide on San Francisco for an example. This is a short guide that doesn't go too in depth yet gives a nice introduction to the city. Assuming you have no previous knowledge of the place, you now at least have some basic information to get you started on your trip. It's probably a good thing that it's not too long, as most people don't have a large attention span when reading something on the Internet anyway. Additionally, this travel guide will link you to many other things including history, pictures, tips, nightlife and reviews. With a connection to the travel community, you can add your own comments if you are familiar with the place as well.
After spending a lot of time on this Web site, I could conclude that it's definitely a useful tool for trying to find a deal on a trip, no matter which kind that may be. It's not quite a TripAdvisor, but it's on its way to making a name for itself nonetheless. I would feel comfortable giving the go ahead to look for offers on your next trip. Let me know how your experience with it goes.