Announcing Zugu

Great news! Today is the official launch of – the next generation of flight search.

I have been part of the Zugu programme since it officially kicked off in early 2009 and today is a significant milestone – the US version goes live! (the UK version) was launched in November 2009 with mainly UK flight partners including BA, Virgin, Easyjet and Ryanair (quite a coup!). The UK site was followed by the German version in April 2010 when we added the German language and multi currency support (8 most popular from US dollars to the Polish złoty!). 

Since then, the product has been analysed and road tested, the code has been improved and the infrastructure scaled. And we have been busy adding the best airline and travel agent partners that will bring the most value to the users. The release was the culmination of all this hard work and included some product updates and US specific partners (AA, Continental, Priceline and the brand new QTrip).

A great achievement – excellent feedback!
Needless to say I am very proud of this new travel search engine and the team who made it happen. They should be proud too as feedback has been very, very positive.  From the beginning the idea was to put the user first and this has been reflected in the user experience delivered and the feedback received.

The site is not full of ads (no banners, no skyscrapers), it does not have those checkboxes on the home page that really annoyingly open up new sites (if I wanted to do that I could have just gone there!!! plus what ever happened to the principle of positive opt in??) And it does not try to cram in links and every bit of information possible into every last square centimetre of screen real estate!

Instead we decided to go back to Cheapflight’s founder’s (John Hatt) first principle… Put the user first!

We firmly believe that this is the most important principle of successful websites. Feedback contained adjectives like: clean, fresh, simple, easy; and phrases like: ‘easy to use’, ‘how travel search sites should be’, ‘it does what is says on the tin’ and’ a breath of fresh air’! Comments like these make me smile and give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside! It’s great to know that you’ve been part of a team that has does a great job and it makes me proud of the last few years I have spent at Cheapflights.

So where do we go from here?
Well today’s achievement is part of the journey – rather than the destination! The site is still in beta, we are still learning and want to make improvements. Flights are great but they are only a part of the travel experience; and we can always improve our UI, our data and our speed.