ExpertFlyer Hot Topics — Where the Rubber Meets the Runway
Now’s the perfect time to hone your travel deal searching skills because we’re coming up on travel bargain season. So, without further ado, let’s check back with our resident travel search oracle and CheapOair.com’s Online Marketing & SEO Manager, Cleo Kirkland. As promised, Cleo will impart his advanced search query wisdom and a system for you to obtain automated deal updates across ALL deal sites and online travel agencies. Are you excited? Yeah, us too!
Here’s what I’ve said so far in the series:
- The Online Travel Agencies, such as CheapOair.com, and other travel aggregators offer the best user experience. The content is fresh, you’re able to search across a variety of deals, and their packages have the most flexible date options. This could be the primary reason why Google ranks these sites over brand sites, such as Marriott.com.
- The deal sites, such as Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com, routinely offer the deepest discounts. But in order to maintain fair competition between the travel agencies and other travel providers, brands force deal sites to hide these deals behind paywalls and restrictive dates—making it nearly impossible to find a travel deal on these sites by searching through a search engine. HOWEVER, if you use special search engine query combinations (see last post), you can get around this block.
Yet, there are limits to what the search engine operators can do. For instance, the search engine operator “site:” that I used in the last post (see picture below) can only search one site at a time.
Using the above query as an example, this means that if you wanted other deal sites in addition to searching Groupon, you’d have to re-enter the query for every site. So this begs the question: How do we scale?
The answer? Leverage Google Alerts. Here’s my process.
Go to http://www.google.com/alerts. Enter in your search query combination. Note that I have added a “|” symbol which is a regular expression meaning “Or.” With this character you can add many different brand names or locations that you are looking for. In this instance I searched for Marriot and Hilton, but I could add more.
Fill in the other drop downs as needed. Your choice on how frequently you want updates. And once you’ve entered one deal site, enter another deal site using the same brands.
Continue to add queries and deal sites to your list (I have 3 listed above!). Note that I’ve set my “Deliver to” as an email, but I could also receive a constantly updating RSS feed of deals by choosing Deliver to Google Reader (see first result above).
The best part about this process is that Google Reader and your alerts will only update you on NEW deals: helping you automatically filter out outdated results you would normally manually sift through when performing a Google search with the same operators. So now you can sit back and watch your Google reader fill up with deals until the right one passes by.
Although this process is a bit rough and rugged, it definitely has worked for me. I’m interested to hear what you all think of it. Also, please indicate if you usually prefer searching for deals with flexible dates through a meta search engine or online travel agency or if you prefer stalking the deal sites.
Happy holiday travels!