One-on-One with Martin Lumbye, Partner of Momondo

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  1. In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Martin Lumbye, partner of Momondo, the “disco queen” of low cost, highly hip Euro-travel. Martin talks about the niche that Momondo’s travel meta search engine fills for US travelers seeking European adventure, as well as the company’s irreverently cool and colorful approach to destination selection.
    Founded in Denmark in 2006, Momondo is a world-class travel meta-search site with a fine collection of free services to help plan your next travel adventure. Momondo is NOT a travel agency or an airline, nor are they a booking-portal, and they do not sell airline tickets.
    Momondo just searches hundreds of fares across the web to give its users the best deals to where they want to go.

    Martin Lumbye, partner, Momondo

    “Momondo is an experience –The ambient beginning of your travel odyssey. Our colors ignite your emotions and get you in the travel mood.”
    – Martin Lumbye, partner, Momondo

    We have talked to a number of leading travel search engines over the past couple of years — Hipmunk, Lonely Planet,TripAdvisor,to name a few — and our readers are interested to know the difference between them and you? What do travelers get when they use Momondo that they don’t get when they use other players in this competitive industry?
    On the top, it can seem as if we are offering much of the same kind of products and services. However, this is not the case. Momondo varies from its competitors in many ways both technically and product-wise. For instance, did you know that every time you search on Momondo, we conduct a live search/crawl of more than 740 Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and airline companies (both low cost and legacy carriers)? In this way, we can almost always find the most updated, and often the cheapest, price on the exact route in which you have expressed interest.
    Furthermore, Momondo’s European point-to-point searches include over 4,000 high-speed rail lines (all the high-speed rail lines in Europe). In the United States Amtrak is also included as part of the organic search. Therefore, a flight search from Amsterdam to Brussels or Madrid to Barcelona or New York to Boston will include train results as part of the search.
    Additionally, Momondo is more than just a flight comparison site – Momondo is an experience –The ambient beginning of your travel odyssey, if you will. Our colors ignite your emotions and get you in the travel mood. Then, once you know where you are going, we will also help you find great deals on hotels and car rentals. And, taking into consideration your personality and travel theme or purpose – green for family, blue for business, pink for night life, etc., we will help you plan the perfect vacation no matter where in the world you are going.

    What do travelers get when they use Momondo that they don’t get when they use other players in this competitive industry?
    We provide travelers with a unique and “fun” experience that makes them want to return to our site over and over for planning their journeys. There is so much color, atmosphere, travel information – both user generated, as well as travel tip articles in our “Don’t Forget Your Passport” section, that site visitors enjoy browsing around. This is not necessarily something they would do on a “deliberately ugly” travel search site.
    Moreover, we are a small and dynamic organization that is constantly updating our product based upon customer feedback. Our repeat business and customer surveys reveal a user satisfaction rate of more than 98%.

    Talk about how your European roots have helped you here in the US? Are you focusing less on shepherding Americans across the Atlantic or is that still your business sweet spot?
    The US has been, and will continue to be one of our focus markets. Americans are famous for being very active online shoppers who are always leading trends by utilizing the newest products and features, such as flight apps for mobile phones, for instance. We are increasingly focusing on our cross-Atlantic routes, as there is an increased demand for flights both ways.
    How, if at all, do European airlines treat meta-search differently than US airlines?
    In Europe, the competition among online travel agents is very aggressive, and the European-based national and low cost carriers are also competing very vigorously online. In the US, the competition is also hard, but still not as fierce as in Europe. For example, there are more than 100 low-cost carriers in Europe. Meta-search has become extremely popular, so it has become much easier for us to work more closely with the suppliers as compared to when we launched Momondo back in September 2006.

    Because you are based in Denmark, does that have any negative bearing on your ability to serve up the best fares for US destinations?
    No. Thanks to the Internet, the world is much smaller today, and all of a sudden Denmark and the US are not that far apart. We are a 98% online organization and luckily our robots, which make the live searches, are super robots that speak multiple languages and can get good prices on flights regardless if the OTA or airline is located in Denmark, the US or Australia.
    US consumers are very comfortable booking travel online. Is it true that EU travelers prefer booking via brick and mortar travel agents and how does that affect EU meta-search sites?
    I would tend to say that this is a general misconception. The younger European travelers seem as confident with booking online as the Americans. That said, most of our users are under 60 years old.
    Where did the concept for “travel by color” ambiance come from and how does it work?
    Momondo is an organization built for travelers, by travelers, and we all felt that we were often wasting a lot of time browsing through online and offline travel guides simply because we had to browse through too much irrelevant material before we found what we were looking for. We invented Travel By Colors, so customers can plan a trip according to their personality, the purpose of their travel, or maybe just the very mood they are in when looking for an exciting experience. Travel is so much more than a cheap flight – travel is more about feelings, emotions, discovery — new places, people and new moments in time. We even provide an opportunity for travelers to search by their mood. Here: you enter your departure airport and just your month of travel and search by ambient color, and Momondo will suggest places to go.
    What’s the deal with those unusual pictures on your website and who is your target demographic?
    By now it should be clear that we don’t offer run-of-the-mill anything. We are about providing travelers with a uniquely fun experience that makes them want to come back to us. Our site was designed to reflect our personality and unique value.
    Our target demographic is simple and very wide: People, young, old and in between, looking for experiences – Travel related or related to their local region. The photos and color schemes of our site have been carefully selected in accordance with the fashion trends of today.
    What added features, such as hotel booking, iPhone and Android apps, multi-destination search, have impacted your business the most profoundly and how so?
    Our travel guides have had a big impact on the way that our consumers utilize our site. A couple of years ago our customers simply used Momondo for finding cheap flights. On the average, they left our site after just a couple of minutes. Today our users spend much more time on our site, and seem to have a good time in finding both travel inspiration and travel savings on flights, hotels and car rentals. In fact, we know that more and more of our customers do not know their final destination when entering the site. However, many of these mood-inspired travelers leave with a new journey to look forward to.
    Additionally, our users wanted multi-destination search more than any other request, so we gave them what they wanted. Then they asked for mobile apps. We gave them that, too.
    What’s next for Momondo’s business – will you move from disco to hip-hop:)?
    Momondo will move in the preferred direction of our users. If our users convert to reggae, you will be seeing great deals to Jamaica and so on. Specifically, we are working on upgrading search, in general. Since Momondo does not purchase any flight-search software and owns all of its flight search data since 2006, we are now working on fare prediction. This will not be limited to questions asking if prices will go up or down, but by how much!
    Overall, Momondo is focused on providing the best experiences for our users. Thus, in the near future, you might not need anything other than a Momondo app to travel the world. Speaking of the Momondo app, you should look out for the newest upgrade to our Android App, which just hit the streets this month.

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