Veteran financial journalist Jon Talton blogs daily on the most important economic news, trends and issues involving Seattle and the Northwest.
Yapta helps connect travelers with savings
A weekly column profiling companies and personalities.
What: Yapta, based in Seattle
Who: Tom Romary, 43, co-founder and CEO
Mission: Help travelers find the lowest airfares and take advantage of frequent-flier programs.
Flight risk: When airlines lower their prices, they don't notify booked passengers that fares have decreased. Yapta tracks these offers in real time, e-mailing customers when a fare is lowered or when an airline offers a special deal on mileage.
Boarding pass: Customers don't get actual refunds after a price drop, but receive travel vouchers equivalent to the difference. Some airlines charge a rebooking fee, so the discount has to exceed $100 to be worthwhile. Romary said this saves the customer money and the airlines get repeat business. If someone gets a $200 credit, it's almost certain that traveler will take that same airline on another flight.
Financials: The venture-funded company gets a significant share of its revenues through airline referrals. Romary said advertising will support the company, and predicts turning a profit within a year.
Wing span: Last week the company announced expanding into the hotel category, searching for the best rates in a specific area. There is no travel voucher involved here. Yapta books the room and lets the customer rebook the rate. Or the customer can pay Yapta $15 and save a little time.
Bumpy landing: Travelers once didn't care if they paid a premium to fly at certain times, but things have changed. People are paying more attention to their travel budgets, and benefit from Yapta's information. Romary: "We get some last-minute fare requests, but most of our customers are travelers who plan ahead and take some time to find the best deal."
— Charles Bermant
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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