Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fly

I’d really rather not do product reviews. A friend asked me to do a review of his site, but I turned him down – even though during my tenth post I listed product reviews as one of the things I would do. I would rather cover some specific topic and let the product review/discussion be incidental to or illustrative of the subject. In a sense, this isn’t quite a product review, I don’t really zero in on the product, I look more at the idea of the product. Maybe one day I will do a product review site of some sort. In fact, I would love to do a site where products are posted and people rate them (please, feel free to steal the idea).

However, once in a while a product gets and grips my attention. It may not score very high on the originality or innovation charts, it may not be pretty, or chockfull of features, but if it is particularly useful, if it meets a particular need, if it helps enrich the lives of Nigerians, then it is worth a few words here.image

The usual wanderings round the internet looking for material led me first to Twitter, then to a blog (the interestingly named (www.AgegeLabs.com), which led to www.1spotsearch.com where I stopped cold. To put it mildly, I was quite impressed. In fact before evening visiting the site, I was impressed by the concept when I read about it. See, I appreciate sites like Interswitch’s payment portal where I can pay a variety of service bills without leaving my seat. I also appreciate ventures like ticketonmobile.com  that present an end to end solution that provide a mesh of online and real world services as part of a seamless product (though I am yet to use their service). Still, I am even more impressed by what 1SpotSearch offers.

1SpotSearch is a flight information aggregator service. You visit the site, select where you are flying from and flying to and when, click to get flights and voila, the site gets you a list of possible flight schedules from various Nigerian airlines for your dates and destinations. Did I mention that I am impressed? Well, I am.

The site doesn’t look like much. Indeed I would call it downright ugly. The developer needs to sit down with a designer or take a month to study www.smashingmagazine.com. However the value it offers is huge. Rather than opening multiple browser windows to compare flight availability and cost between Virgin Nigeria, Aero Contractors and Arik Air, you get all that data  in one simple table. Now that is pretty nifty piece of work. Now understand that this is not unique. Sites like Travelocity, Expedia.com, Hotels.com have provided such services for years. However is it notable because it accomplishes this for Nigerian airline services. This is not aggregating RSS news feeds from services that go out of their way to actually shove their data at you to consume in every which way possible(sorry, Nnanna, but it’s not). Unless of course the airlines actually pipe out the data as RSS or Atom (enough of the technical terms). This is some nice programming (I think) that goes out and grabs this info from the airline sites.

This is impressive on a variety of levels because it can literally explode in a huge number of interrelated services. Flight aggregation can lead to hotel aggregation as Nigerian hotels become encouraged to put their services on the Internet in a way that they can be discovered by similar services. Hotel aggregation can lead to journey planning for local trips or people coming into Nigeria from outside using web-based tools. All this aggregating can lead to someone providing package services that make the overall cost cheaper for customers. This in turn can incorporate customer reviews that rate service quality (yes I am back on that tack) and can then lead to service providers being more concerned about service quality, competing more on price and wealth of service offering. I envision a rich cascading mesh of related services making life more productive for hundreds of thousands, creating a new socio-economic reality for all. PHCN willing.

However, I digress.

1SpotSearch is still in beta meaning it is not a finished product. It is just out there for people to test and to get the word out. This is standard practice for web-based services. it’s unfinished condition is obvious. Aside from the less than compelling aesthetics, a bunch of expected services are not yet available. this includes the very logical ability to actually complete the transaction on the site or at least make reservations. The system is also unstable as after my first test of the system, I was unable to get any results on subsequent tests only getting an error message saying “the website is too busy to show the webpage”. Again these kinds of things are expected for a service that is still clearly under development.

I will be keeping an eye on this site to see what becomes of it. I really, really hope it flies.

Dej

4 comments:

1spotSearch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
1spotSearch said...

Thanks for taking the time to provide us with feedback. We very much appreciate it.


One thing we would like to clarify is that we are not an online travel agency and so users are not going to be able to make reservations on our site. We are strictly into fare/flight aggregation and when you select a flight on our site, we send you directly to the booking point on the selected airline. An example of a similar site is Kayak

Dejo Fabolude said...

@1SpotSearch: It's cool if you don't plan to go as far as reservations or fulfilment. You've already upped the game with your aggregation service.

Agegelabs said...

Thanks for the shout out. 1SpotSearch has a lot of potential, definitely one to watch.

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