Website of the Week: www.travelmatch.co.uk
While many holiday bookers know exactly what they want and where they want to go, there are also millions out there who don't have a clue, and could do with help. Which is why it's something of a Holy Grail for designers of travel websites to come up with the perfect 'inspirational tool'.
A new online outfit called Travelmatch.co.uk claims to have cracked it. The PR blurb I've been sent claims it is "a revolutionary site…that for the first time ever allows customers to search for holidays using any requirement they may have, rather than the usual destination, date and budget that other holiday sites require". Like a virtual travel agent, the website then identifies specific holidays that match.
So, does it work? I put Travelmatch.co.uk through its paces.
A match made in holiday heaven? Travelmatch claims to put travellers in touch with their perfect break
Well, there are certainly plenty of ways to narrow down what you're looking for. Clever ones include by temperature, flight duration and hotel facilities, allowing you to limit what you're offered to, perhaps, somewhere featuring babysitting, or windsurfing, or yoga, or a nightclub - or all four facilities.
Without going in to boring detail, it works (to a point) - and for the matching holidays, you're usefully shown different prices from several big tour operators, such as Thomson, Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays.
There's a similar service for ski breaks, which lets you specify you're looking for somewhere that's, for example, good for beginners and/or après-ski.
Once you start requiring various things, the choice of holidays offered diminishes rapidly. For a pretty mainstream request - a 7-night beach holiday for a family of four in late February with a kids' club and waterslides, and temperatures over 25 C - all that Travelmatch.co.uk came up with was four holidays, two to hotels in Jamaica, one on the Red Sea and one in Kenya.
If I also wanted beauty treatments, it had to be the hotel in Kenya. Of all the holiday options available around the world, that just doesn't ring true, does it?
The other major drawback of the site is its scope. Presently, it only offers holidays from 11 big tour operators (or five for ski), and you won't find any UK, cruise, camping or walking holidays, or many other types of break.
Easy to use 4/5
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