Hipmunk is more than a cute name, though it almost didn't even have that. While sitting on the aforementioned new arrival couch, Steve told us that the leading names during first drafts were "TrotMe" or "BouncePounce." Instead it was Adam's girlfriend who came out with the idea to name the site after a cute animal, minus one letter. "We got the domain for under $100, and soon our office manager was hand-making the little stuffed animal mascot," says Adam.
The genius of Hipmunk is so ridiculously simple that we've often wondered why it's taken so long for something like Hipmunk to give a kick in the shin to traditional travel search engines. Just do a basic search on Hipmunk if you haven't already, and you'll see what we mean. The display, the options, the tabbed searches, the heat maps, the lack of pop-ups! In March, Hipmunk expanded into hotel bookings, with "official" star ratings curiously left out of the equation. Why? Adam confesses they're struggling with "the value of an industry star in relation to amenities," preferring to cite Yelp reviews instead. Having stayed at a few less-than-4-star-quality "four star properties" in our time, we totally see where they're coming from.
Now what? Hipmunk has already begun looping in Amtrak train results when users search flights between cities like New York and Boston, but rental cars and vacation packages aren't exactly on the drawing board. Adam hints that Hipmunk hotel promotions are on the horizon, offering those who book with Hipmunk freebies like complimentary WiFi, breakfast, parking, food and beverage credits and the like. Following that? Booking space flights on Hipmunk! At least, that's the hope. And we'd be lying if we said we didn't totally waste like five minutes geeking out with Adam and Steve over the official IATA airport code for Virgin Galactic's Mojave Spaceport (it's MHV).
Our final question? The basic "why should a traveler use Hipmunk versus other travel booking sites?"
Adam Goldstein answered our question with a question: "Do they want to have a nice experience?"
Bonus tidbit: Hipmunk is building an online store, so that travelers need not stalk them at SXSW to score cute luggage tags, T-shirts and maybe even hoodies with aviator goggles and chipmunk ears attached.