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April 1, 2013

Online travel agency is making it easier for customers to find and book a flight via a new voice-activated mobile application.

The CheapAir app is designed to make it easy for on-the-go iPhone and iPad users to find flight deals without the need to type in information. Instead, users simply say a request such as “Chicago to New York, May 5 to the 10th,” and the app will find matching results from hundreds of airlines.

“The feature we are the most excited about by far is the voice search piece,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, Calabasas, CA. “When you think about it, since the first online travel sites came into existence, there really have not been any major advancements in the flight search process.

“For the most part, we still have to fill out the same forms, going from field to field, with the same cumbersome calendars,” he said. “This is especially tedious if you want to book on your smartphone.

“Although we know there are still more improvements to be made, we think this app represents a major step forward. We’re really proud to be the first to offer travelers the voice search option.”

Semantic language technology
The small screens on smartphones can make it frustrating for users if they need to fill in a lot of information, such as when they are looking to make travel arrangements.

The CheapAir app addresses this issue through the use of semantic language technology that was first developed by CheapAir for Easy Search, the free-form search experience available on its Web site.

The proprietary technology translates spoken words into a travel query for fast, easy flight results.

The app displays results with the same level of detail as the Web site, including amenity information such as which flights have Wi-Fi, personal video monitors or live TV.

The CheapAir app is available for the iPhone and iPad.

Mobile traffic grows
Consumers are increasingly embracing mobile to assist in making travel arrangements, such as to research flight options. Fifteen percent of consumers are already using the mobile Web for travel services and 13 percent are using mobile travel applications downloaded from one of the top app stores, according to The Digital Consumer report by Tealeaf.

As the company tests and gains feedback on this first version of the CheapAir mobile app, it will continue to upgrade and add more functionality.

The app is being released at a time when CheapAir is seeing significant growth in its traffic from mobile users.

“More and more, our customers are reaching out to us through mobile devices and that trend continues to accelerate,” Mr. Klee said.

“Currently 23 percent of’s traffic is mobile, including tablets. The number of mobile visitors is up 33 percent  over same time last year and 42 percent of our email subscribers engage with us via a mobile device.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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