Agoda + TripAdvisor

Ok here’s a startup idea. Basically a combination of Agoda and Tripadvisor (basically a front-end combining those two backends). I’m looking to book a hotel for a forthcoming holiday. So what I’ve been doing is to search through agoda for hotels available for those days and within my price range, and one by one searching for them on tripadvisor to see their ratings and comments and all that.

Now, the deal is this: Agoda is an excellent and reliable booking engine. However, it’s tripadvisor that has the reviews that I’d trust but it neither does bookings nor has details of availability or lowest price available. Hence I’ve to keep the two windows open which is quite frustrating and time-consuming.

For someone who’s experienced in developing web apps this is quite simple I think (since I have no experience or interest in this I’m just giving the idea away). A front end that queries agoda for available hotels and tripadvisor for ratings of these hotels and then presents both together in a nice frontend. The actual booking can be done through agoda itself (to where there can be a link).

As for revenue, I’m sure hotels will advertise on this site. Problem, though is to get the tripadvisor reviews in a way that can be extracted to this third-party website without actually going to tripadvisor. But why would tripadvisor allow this since the reviews are their intellectual property and the basis on which they make their money? But well worth a try, I think!

Charades of obscurity

Having “played” dumb-charades (DC for short) competitively at a school and college level, I don’t particularly enjoy playing it casually. I’m prone to getting annoyed when people around me (either on a picnic, or a party) exclaim with great enthusiasm that we should play DC. Till recently I used to think it was like chess – where my enthusiasm for the game has been killed purely because I played it competitively, but now I realize there are more reasons.

The challenge with “competitive” DC is that it is a timed game. You are judged based on how fast you can act out a certain name/place/animal/thing/. Because of this the clues need not be too hard, and there is a fair degree of challenge in acting out even simple things. Apart from this, the clues are set by a neutral third party which means they can all be trusted to be of approximately similar standard, so there is some sort of a level playing field there. Then, you have teams that have practiced well together, and have clues for all the trivial stuff, and you have a game!

With casual DC, there are several problems. Firstly, the games are not timed. Secondly, the teams haven’t practiced together at all, so it takes ages to communicate even straightforward stuff (which is why the games aren’t timed). And then the clues are usually given to you by your competitor. And for some reason, casual DC always has to be movies. No books, no places, no animals, no personalities, nothing.

The f act that the games are not timed, combined with the fact that the clues are given by the competitor, means that the game usually gets into a downward spiral of obscurity. You don’t want your competitor to guess the movie easily, so you give a vague movie. And they reply with something vaguer. And so forth, until teams have to check IMDB to find out if the movies actually exist. By which time all the enthusiasm for the game is lost.

On a recent trip (with colleagues, as part of our CSR initiative. more on that in another post) we played casual DC, and after some 10 clues it had gotten so obscure that nothing was guessable. I’d lost interest when someone suggested we do Kannada movies! Now, that’s something few people would’ve played – DC with Kannada movies as clues, because of which we could give clues while not keeping them too obscure (but it was hard. I completely bulbed trying to act out “Kalasipalya”).

Still, my hatred for casual DC remains, and I try as much as possible to not play it. Maybe next time I’ll impose conditions (like timing, choice of subjects, etc.), and refuse to play if they want to do English movies with infinite time.