Travel site makes e-mail alerts worth reading

As far as e-mail alerts go, there's nothing worse than getting your in-box stuffed with e-mails from companies seeking your business. hopes to make e-mail alerts a little more fun.

Starting today, the travel Web site that sells last-minute deals is offering what it says is a unique service in the online travel industry: Travelers can set up what it calls "Deal Alerts," in which they can set where and when they want to go on vacation, and best of all, set a price range for how much they want to pay.

Instead of getting an e-mail from a travel company about a host of offers, Voyij customers will be getting e-mail alerts for the deals they signed up to hear about. For once, getting such an e-mail won't cause you to automatically hit the "delete" key.

"It's your alert. It's your contact -- so of course it's going to be very interesting to you," said Brent Stewart, CEO of Voyij, in a telephone interview from his office in Cupertino, Calif.

Certain criteria must be put into a deal alert: Your home or departing airport, destination, deal type (flight, hotel or packages), e-mail delivery (daily or weekly), travel month or flexible dates for anytime (weekends only is another option), and minimum and maximum price.

For example, I set up a weekly e-mail alert for hotel and flight packages from Oakland, Calif., to Kauai, Hawaii, that are available anytime for up to $218 per person. I may never get that deal, but it's fun to dream. But if such a package is offered, Voyij will send me an e-mail alert and I'll grab it as fast as I can.

Users can create up to five travel alerts. Stewart recommends doing some price comparisons first on Voyij before setting your price points.

For now, the alerts don't define how long a package vacation is for, although Stewart said that such a category is coming soon to the site by letting users set the number of nights they want to stay at a hotel. There also isn't the ability to set requested star ratings for hotels, although he said that feature is also coming soon.

To get the best price on "distressed inventory" that might otherwise go unsold and unused, Stewart recommends using Voyij within three months of the planned departure date. A few weeks is best. Going further out, to up to six months, will still lead to a deal but probably not as good of one, he said.

"The deal's for the flexible traveler," he said.

But with deal alerts you have the option of checking to see if that Thanksgiving flight to Grandma's is out there. If the price is within your range, you may want to grab it sooner than later before flights fill up.

Now if only someone had an alert on how long the plane will be delayed on the tarmac before it takes off.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at

Read Full Story