If you’ve travelled by air at all, you know how frustrating and arduous shopping for flights can be. While there are dozens of online services available that promise to find you the best prices for your tickets, they always seem to come back with wildly different numbers. Plus, with prices fluctuating over time, how do you know when it’s best to book your flight?
This is where Hopper, a mobile-only travel app with offices in Montreal and Boston, comes in. The app uses data science to comb through hundreds of billions of prices and predict, with 95 percent accuracy, when you should book your ticket. Hopper says it saves users an average of $50 per ticket, totalling over $150 million in savings for airfare since the company launched in 2015.
Hopper says it has totalled over $150 million in savings for airfare since the company launched in 2015.
“We use hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of computers to do what you’re trying to do in fifteen minutes before making dinner,” CEO, Fred Lalonde told us. “Of course, the outcomes when using Hopper are much better, but more importantly, it’s no work. You just have a conversation with your phone and it gets the job done.”
Not only does Hopper take the work out of booking the cheapest flights, but today the company announced it has added watch filters to the app. This means that rather than simply finding you the best price, the app will now search for the best ticket based on the type of flight you’re looking for.
Watch filters enable you to set flight preferences—remove stops, long layovers and basic fares — so that you can decide what makes the most sense for you, not just what’s the cheapest.
“What we’re doing in the backend is we’re recreating everything. All the notifications you’ll receive for that trip will be different,” said Lalonde.
“This basically lets you tell the bunny exactly what you want, and now the bunny isn’t just telling you how to save money, it’s telling you how to save money on your ideal trip.”
Once you’ve set the Watch Filters, Hopper then provides a price prediction, and suggest whether you should buy now or wait. You tap the “watch this trip” button and you’ll be notified when the best price is available.
“It’s taken us a year and a half to build the data science behind this. If we can have Hopper find you the exact flight you want, customized to your needs, without having to do any work except changing the filter, we think that’s a completely different way to shop for air,” said Lalonde.
With better predictions over the long term (Hopper predicts prices six months to a year out, while their competitors typically go no longer than a few weeks) it’s no surprise that the company is seeing great success. And while Hopper was unsure that flight-seekers would be willing to buy airfare on their phones, the company has proven in the past year that convenience and price are what travellers truly value.