CheapOair

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CheapOair
Private
Industry Online travel agency
Founded New York City, 2005 (2005)
Founder Sam Jain
Headquarters New York City, USA
Website www.cheapoair.com

CheapOair is an American multinational online travel agency that sells travel services like airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars, and vacation packages.[1] Since its inception in 2005, CheapOair has become one of the top 5 online travel agencies[2] and has won numerous awards, including those from Travel Weekly.[3] CheapOair has received recognition from numerous publications (including Fortune,[4] USA Today,[5] The New York Times,[6] and Bloomberg Businessweek)[7] for being a discount option for booking travel services. As of 2014, the website receives over 20 million unique monthly visitors,[7] has agreements with more than 450 airlines,[8] and offers deals on over 100 million airfares.[9]

The agency is headquartered in a Manhattan office in New York City.[7] It also has contact centers in Las Vegas, Nevada; Canada; Gurgaon, a suburb of New Delhi, India and Pune,Maharashtra. CheapOair employs roughly 2,000 people, 200 of whom are engineers.[2]

History[edit]

In 2005, CheapOair was founded by then and current CEO Sam Jain in New York City as a subsidiary of Fareportal. Since its inception, CheapOair has been the largest unit under the Fareportal umbrella which also includes OneTravel and Travelong (among others).[2] The name "CheapOair" was chosen to elicit a sense of value and affordability.[10] Although the first two years did not yield positive gains, CheapOair has been profitable each year since 2007.[2]

In 2008, CheapOair was considered the 9th-largest online travel agency. It also began offering hotel rooms in addition to airfares and car rentals.[11] The agency uses a "complex mathematical algorithm" to identify the cheapest fares for each individual trip. As early as 2009, CheapOair was also using opaque negotiated airfare to achieve discounted prices.[10] By 2010, the agency was garnering attention in the online travel industry.[10]

2010 also marked the first time CheapOair engaged in a dedicated ad campaign. Using the slogan, "Get More for Less," the agency took to television to reach a broader market. Fareportal earned around $825 million in 2009, but they were projected to reach upwards of $1.2 billion in 2010 (buoyed in large part by CheapOair's increased visibility).[12] Their ad campaign was recognized with Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly[3] and Gold Link Awards from LinkShare.[13]

In 2011, the agency released the CheapOair Flight Search app for iOS and Android devices. The app received critical acclaim[14] and even won two Silver Magellan Awards from Travel Weekly in 2012.[15] By the end of 2012, the app had been downloaded roughly 850,000 times.[9] The app achieved the million-download milestone at the beginning of 2013.[16] From November 2011 to November 2012, CheapOair saw a 160% increase in mobile traffic and a 230% increase in mobile purchases.[9]

In 2013, CheapOair executives (including CEO Sam S. Jain), decided to focus the future of the company primarily on airfare. This development occurred despite the fact that competing online travel agencies like Travelocity and Priceline began investing further into hotel bookings.[2] CheapOair's focus on airfare is largely due to the fact that they have become exclusive vendors of ancillary products and services offered by airlines like American Airlines, US Airways,[7] and Spirit Airlines.[17] Ancillary products range from upgraded seats[7] to checked baggage.[17] By the end of 2013, CheapOair had helped Fareportal become a $3.2 billion company.[2][18]

Products and services[edit]

CheapOair sells travel services like airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars, and vacation packages at a discounted price. As of 2013, their primary focus is on airfare, but they do still offer other travel packages.[2] The website uses a sophisticated algorithm to search through databases to find discounted prices for each individual trip.[10] CheapOair also has a Flight Search app that allows users to find and book itineraries via their mobile device.[9]

The agency also places great importance on customer service. None of their contact centers are outsourced, and each telephone operator is also available for live web chat. Offering a phone number directly on the web page has been considered a "throwback" customer service option. CheapOair's stated goal is to offer potential and current customers every avenue to get in touch with them. Executives have admitted, however, that most phone calls involve individuals looking to plan a future trip or revise a current one instead of booking travel services.[7]

CheapOair was the first online travel agency to sell ancillary products for US Airways and American Airlines. They offered "Choice Seats" and "Main Cabin Extra" as products in booking path and checkout. CEO Sam S. Jain believes that more airlines will start offering ancillary products like Wi-Fi, early boarding choices, and upgraded seats via CheapOair.[2]

The agency is currently based in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, but Jain envisions operating bases in 15 different countries in the future. This would theoretically provide country-specific deals, products, and services to a wider customer base.[2]

DOT fine[edit]

CheapOair has been investigated by the Department of Transportation because its fare matrix was displaying erroneous information. The company made changes to fix the error and agreed to pay $92,500 to avoid litigation.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Merrihew, Lincoln (18 March 2013). "CheapOair Creates Turbulence In Travel Industry". Compete Pulse. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schaal, Dennis (24 September 2013). "Why CheapOair Is Sticking With Flights While Booking Peers Chase Hotels". Skift. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Munro, Aria (7 October 2010). "CheapOair Wins Three 2010 Travel Weekly Magellan Awards". eNewsChannels. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Eng, Dinah (13 November 2014). "Sam Jain's CheapOair is really taking off". Fortune. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Oakley, Rachel. "How to Fly Cheaply as a Student". USA Today. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Gross, Matt (16 February 2010). "Booking a Flight the Frugal Way". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Bachman, Justin (22 August 2013). "This Travel-Booking Website Loves It When You Call". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Kendall, Sara (8 April 2014). "Q&A with CheapOair". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d Johnson, Lauren (10 December 2012). "CheapOair racks up app downloads via mobile sweepstakes". Mobile Commerce Daily. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d Schaal, Dennis (25 August 2014). "CheapOair CEO on Bridging the Gap Between Booking Site and Travel Agent". Skift. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  11. ^ O'Neill, Sean (15 September 2008). "CheapOair puts a fresh spin on hotel listings". Budget Travel. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Johansmeyer, Tom (6 December 2010). "Brand Wars: The Airline Booking Battle Will Be Televised". Gadling. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "CheapOair Receives Prestigious LinkShare 2010 Golden Link Publisher's Choice Award and Innovative Advertiser of the Year Nomination". PR Newswire. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  14. ^ Ward, Jenni (16 December 2011). "Best iPhone Apps for Finding Flights & Booking Airline Tickets". App Safari. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "CheapOair Receives Top Awards for Mobile Apps". Before It's News. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "CheapOair Celebrates One Million Mobile App Downloads". Reuters. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Rice, Kate (15 July 2014). "CheapOair enables bag fees on Spirit flights". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  18. ^ Vilabrera, Alisa (14 October 2013). "How One Entrepreneur Started a Company With His Credit Card and Became a Millionaire". Bplans. Retrieved 2 March 2015. 
  19. ^ Jerry Limone (March 16, 2015). "DOT fines CheapOAir for faulty search". Travel Weekly. Retrieved 12 April 2015.