I’m always on the lookout for better ways to book flights and hotels and checked out HelloGbye over the last couple of weeks. Full disclosure, a long time ago I was asked to review this app and chose not to despite being offered an early access Beta code. Trust me, their invite didn’t influence my review – the app is terrible, here’s why.
A natural language search engine allows you to speak or text your query and produces results based on your commands and loaded preferences. It’s like a personal assistant without the obligation for gifts on National Admin Day.
I love the concept of speaking commands and having options presented rather than typing. However, even if you prefer typing through its in-app text/chat style message box, the loaded preferences and narrowing of choices should give you more useful results? What’s not to like?
A key feature of an app based on listening is that it listens. That seems obvious but my principal issue was that I would type a command or speak one and it would ignore elements of my request.
I have plenty of hotel points and would prefer to do that search independently as I may use some points some cash, all points or none – the app was having none of this.
Naturally, I tried to alter my inputs, maybe I wasn’t saying something right.
Still the app returned hotel results and would not let me exclude them. What if I was visiting family or staying with a friend? What if live there and was flying home for a weekend while being located far away on a project? It seems like something that would be easily avoided.
What I Liked
I searched on a day where there was a fare sale (I got the alert from DealRay) and to my amazement, the cheapest flight options showed up.
I loved that it had taken into account what I had asked, delivered me options that presented good value for money and didn’t only promote more expensive flights that it assumed I would want. It seemed a little like Hipmunk’s agony index and that was appreciated.
I also like that I can out in my frequent flyer details and have my travel booked for me at a glance.
What I Didn’t Like
Execution was poor and it forced me to exert more effort than if I just went to google flights and typed in my information. If I had done that, then narrowed my search by carrier, I would have had a similar result. Information on my airline profiles are filled out so I don’t have to enter much information once my flights are selected anyway.
The hotel functionality leaves a lot to be desired. I can see this being great for busy people who want to travel on a whim and are not as finicky about hotel stays. But wouldn’t it make sense to tailor this for a crowd that doesn’t travel often. It seems it would better fit the crowd who want to save even more time than other tools already allow, which is a special kind of traveler.
Lastly – I can’t confirm this information, but perhaps users who have purchased hotels through the service can – I am pretty confident these would be third-party bookings excluding them from points and status accrual for hotels. I would also suspect that it will become even more complex with new Basic Economy fares being rolled out. If the app can’t follow the most entry-level exclusion (“Do Not Include Hotels”) then it seems highly unlikely that specific fare classes could also be excluded from the search. That could lead to some very unhappy customers at the airport when they learn that their carry-on bag is not complimentary.
Have you tried HelloGbye? What was your experience like?