With all the money at its disposal, you'd think Amadeus could hire the right people and come up with an attractive design for this iPad app. On the other hand, the app seems more like brochureware than an earnest attempt to win over consumers.
Amadeus’ Travel Seeker HD, a new iPad app from the Madrid-based airline technology and global distribution system provider, is a case in point on how GDSs haven’t distinguished themselves with consumer products.
The app’s underlying techology, which was introduced on a Web-based platform a couple of years ago as Affinity Shopper for online travel agencies and airline sites, is fairly ground-breaking, but the design and user experience are shockingly bad.
Especially for an iPad app.
But, after all, Travel Seeker HD is less of an iPad app seeking to win the allegiances of users, and more of a brochure and advertisement geared to get airlines and travel agencies to sign up with Amadeus for the technology.
We gotta get out of this place
Travel Seeker HD is primarily for people who want to go on a vacation, might have a budget and trip type or activity in mind — beach, ski, museums or theme parks — but are open to suggestions about a great destination. The iPad app is currently available for users in the U.S. and Canada.
You use your current location or select an origin city, pick a budget, set some dates if you wish, and then the app plots multicolored pins on a map — green for the best deals, orange for average and red for subpar — showing flight deals.
A flight from New York to Tehran — an interesting option to show for Americans and Canadians these days — has a green pin, meaning the flight is an excellent value.
And, regardless of the destination, this is where the design and user experience starts to get disappointing.
When you click on an Information tab about Tehran, you get photos and text from Wikitravel (yes, that Wikitravel from Internet Brands). The text is dry, seemingly sucking the life out of a travel destination, and the images are small and mediocre, taking advantage of none of the photo capabilities of the iPad.
Travel Seeker HD has a number of interesting tools such as Climate Information to depict, temperature, rain and wind at the destination by month.
You can also see which of your Facebook friends live among your destination options, and access Wikipedia information about activities at various destinations.
Yes, Internet Brands’ Wikitravel and Wikipedia, which has been dragged into litigation against Internet Brands over a rival travel wiki, are comingling in the Amadeus iPad app as Amadeus accesses their data under Creative Commons licenses.
But, it is the app’s Prices tool, which displays varying airfares based on departure and return dates, that is perhaps the ugliest element of the app.
The text is so small it is difficult to read and the numbing images can deflate an inspiring trip idea in a hurry.
Once you tap on one of the purple columns, which depict airfares within the budget you set, you can enter flight details, and view your airline options to Tehran, including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and Aeroflot.
The flight options are sourced from the Amadeus GDS, but you can’t actually book them using the app.
If you try, a message pops up, saying “Hope you enjoyed Travel Seeker HD and that you found your next dream vacation! This app showcases the new way to plan your trip powered by Amadeus’ Extreme Search technology. If you would like more information, please contact Amadeus.”
The iPad app is powered by Amadeus’ Extreme Search technology, and Travel Seeker HD can fittinlgy use an extreme makeover in terms of its design and destination content.
Despite the user-experience drawbacks, the underlying flight-search technology is interesting if you are among the minority of travelers who want to get away, but have no clue where to go.
No worries, though, because Amadeus rolled out the Travel Seeker HD iPad app as sort of an iOS brochure to sell airlines and travel agencies on the technology.
Who knows, a few travelers may like it, too.