Did you know that people searching for airplane tickets online spend an average of seven hours on the computer and visit about twenty different sites? And all with virtually no guarantee of finding the best price.
This observation led Cyril Guiraud, Alexandre Mans and Jean Tripier to try and predict price variations in order to help consumers save time and money. The three collaborators created Flyr, a startup based in San Francisco and Paris that analyzes plane ticket data in order to predict the best prices and when they will be available.
“We do historical analysis (of data from the three previous years), mathematically and statistically,” explains Guiraud. Every day the startup works through billions of pieces of information from plane tickets. Its algorithms generate prediction models for the next 120 days based on supply and demand, the popularity of the flight, the departure period, and the need to fill planes.
“With this we are able to say very precisely what will happen to the price of a ticket, which other price comparison sites don’t do. It’s a little like predicting the weather,” says Guiraud, emphasizing that their site has advantage of added specificity,”Other sites will tell you next week in California it will be about 30 degrees centigrade. At Flyr we can tell you that next week in San Francisco it will be 25 degrees.”
Flyr is a price comparison tool with an added bit of advice: is it better to buy your ticket now, or wait until later? Flyr is confident it knows the right answer, and if they’re wrong they’ve got a solution for that too: Farekeep.
For an added fee (that changes depending on the price of the ticket itself — $20 on a $400 ticket for example) Flyr will guarantee your fare against price increases.
You can therefor lock in a price for 7 days. “If the price goes up, Flyr will reimburse you the difference. If the price goes down all you have to do is buy the cheaper ticket. If you decide you don’t want the ticket anymore, you only loose the fee you paid to get the guaranteed price.”
Another tool that’s on the way is “FareBeacon,” which will allow users to follow the fluctuation in ticket prices with an alert system. In this way, Flyr will let people know about coming price hikes before they happen.
The young company employs 18 people and has raised 4.2 million dollars in the US off the bat, 500,000 of which comes from AXA Strategic Ventures. Flyr covers the whole US, and their predictions are also available in France and England. Coming soon: the future of plane ticket prices in Spain and Germany.