– Travel Meta Search Engine [Review]

Second to porn, travel sites and search engines have become perhaps the most ubiquitous type of website. So when – a “meta” search engine – ordered a sponsored review, I was skeptical about reviewing yet another me-too web tool. But they asked us to put their site through its paces and provide an overview of our thoughts and experience with the site. As a Travelgrove newbie, I thought it a perfect opportunity.

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First off, I’m a huge fan of “meta” search engines – not just for travel, but for anything really. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means that they’ll search not only airline and hotel sites directly, but other search engines as well. If the “meta” functionality is solid, this can be a huge time-saver. And why not? Why search Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, et. al. individually when one site can do it all for you with one click?

For my battery of tests, I opted to “book” a few mock flights and vacations out of Boston (my home airport) and use real world travel details from a few of my upcoming trips.


As a web designer by trade, I tend to be rather picky about user interface design. Unlike many other such search engines, I found the homepage and search results screens to be largely uncluttered and intuitive.

Considering that such sites are driven by their affiliate sales (they’re paid a commission when you book through them), I was pleasantly surprised to find their advertisements and banners pushed to the outer edges of each page. This keeps the center content – the part we consumers actually care about – clean and easy to read.

As an American, one gripe that I have with many international travel booking sites such as is that their calendars frequently begin on Monday (instead of Sunday as they do here in the states). This is something that many U.S. travelers may overlook and travel websites in particular should be sensitive to as it becomes all too easy to book one’s trip on the wrong dates.


I found the actual workings of the site to be rather buggy. For example, when attempting to refine my search results by airline, I would uncheck the box for, say, JetBlue. In theory, this should remove JetBlue from the currently displayed search results. However, in reality, this option worked only 50% of the time.

Once you’ve found a flight (or other deal) that you’re interested in, you click “Details” and are taken to a third party website (typically the airline’s website) to complete your transaction. This “jump” is critical for meta search engines and the user expects the next page to be a simple, seamless way to continue and complete their transaction.

Upon finding a flight with JetBlue that I was interested in, I clicked “Details” only to be taken to a large search results page on the website. The page showed only Continental Airlines flights. Odd.

Back on my initial search results page, I clicked on another “Details” link for a Continental Airlines flight. Same thing – a new search results page on with no clear indication how to book my intended Continental flight.

Third time’s a charm? On the aforementioned search results page, I clicked “Details” for an Air Tran Airways flight. I was immediately taken to with a “confirmation” page and all my critical flight details prefilled. Success!

As someone with a great deal of patience, I’m willing to dig a little deeper for a solid deal. Many web users, however, are not so forgiving. And one time out of three … ain’t good.

Vacation Deals

Perhaps more odd is the Vacation Deals section. After plugging in details for seven day vacation packages from Boston-London, Boston-Rio de Janeiro, and Boston-Dublin, I was taken on all three occasions to a page with a few ads which were only semi-relevant to my search (Disney vacations in Orlando, etc.).

Beyond those ads, the results page only presented the option to search for my vacation package at other websites. And that was it – no actual vacation results of their own.

If I’m using a meta search engine, it must provide added value that other individual booking sites cannot. If not, I’ll simply go to Travelocity, Expedia, et. al. directly.

Travel Guides

On the upside,’s Travel Guides are extensive and quite useful. Their New York City guide for example, offers a concise overview of city info – history, culture, nightlife, etc. – to provide a good grip on the city before you go.

The advertising and search boxes for booking your own NYC trip are relatively unobtrusive, especially when compared to many travel search engines.

The Bottom Line

As with any such real world testing, your mileage may vary. The interface is solid and intuitive, especially compared to many other similar travel search engines. I think the site is definitely on the “up-and-comers” list but at the moment I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it as your next “go-to” travel booking site as I honestly don’t feel it’s ready for primetime.

Founding Editor
  1. Hi Mike, thanks a lot for the objective review, we can always use some solid, comprehensive external opinions on how our site works and we’ll be looking into the stuff you mentioned not working as smoothly as expected. See you around!

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