It’s rare that I blog about a product. I occasionally tweet (such as the time Zappos refunded me $6 after I pointed out Shoes.com was selling a pair of shoes I’d just bought for $6 less, or the time JetBlue called me after I tweeted about how long I’d been on hold), but I’m almost never moved to actually blog.
And yet, one of the things I love most is travel. And as a person of limited time, I take travel timesavers rather seriously. Enter Kayak Buzz. Introduced to me by my friend Rebekah Heacock, who used it to pluck Guatemala off the grid as her destination of choice last year, the site was singlehandedly responsible for my decision to take a trip to California this winter. It’s great: you simply enter your generic choice of destination, hit go, and are quickly presented with a number of options, ranked from least to most expensive, in your region of preference. It’s the ideal tool for picking a destination out of a hat, on a budget, something I am wont to do.
Enter frustration: I’m playing around with Kayak Buzz a couple of weeks ago and notice there’s no “Middle East” option. “Oh well,” I figure, “they must include the region with Asia. Fair enough.” So I search Asia…and am presented with 25 or so options, all east of Riyadh. “Hmm,” I think, “that’s not cool.” Knowing that a trip to Beirut is significantly cheaper than one to Seoul, I decide to complain. I first submit a complaint through Kayak’s contact form, and receive a brief but polite response. I then Tweet @kayaksupport – at first, no answer, but then I get a response telling me that “We show the cheapest flights found by other people on kayak.com on buzz, so it includes whatever data falls into that category”. Well, that doesn’t make much sense, does it? In order for a destination to ever show up in Buzz, it must have been available in the first place. I press on, telling them there must be something wrong with their algorithm, and if they can’t provide a satisfactory response, I’ll just start using Bing’s travel functions instead.
Enter Kayak CTO and co-founder Paul English: Now this is a surprise. I can’t think of the last time I was contacted by a CEO type (okay, I can, but it wasn’t pleasant). Paul (if I may call him that ) e-mails to ask how he can help. I explain, in minute detail, exactly what the issue is. Within two days, I get a response: I’ve found a bug! Less than a week later, he pings me to let me know it’s fixed, and sure enough, a Boston to “Asia” search on Buzz brings back Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Tel Aviv! (Frankly, I’m still a little peeved about Beirut, but my guess is the tickets simply aren’t as cheap as they used to be).
Pretty awesome stuff. Let that be a lesson to you CEO types…the more you listen to your customers, the more link love you’ll get!
*Disclaimer: I think it goes without saying that I’m not getting anything monetary out of blogging this. Kayak Buzz is a free service, and all I received from this interaction was the ability to use Kayak Buzz for my intended destination, which in turn makes me very happy.