Written by Ken Hegan for MSN Travel

Here’s a clever idea for a travel service:

Let a website ‘flip a coin’ on where you’ll holiday next.

Can’t decide between Australia or Austria, Sweden or Swaziland, or Paris, France and Paris, Texas? GetGoing.com‘s here to help. They’re a San Francisco startup that decides which holiday is best (and cheapest) for you…then eliminates your stress by booking your trip for you.

It’s like being in a train station in London, and letting a ‘Magic 8-ball’ decide which train ticket to buy. The big difference is that GetGoing makes you narrow your options down to two destinations. It’s basically a “pick two, get one” deal. Plus it won’t give you annoying, namby-pamby, time-wasting answers like ‘Reply hazy, try again’ or worse, the obnoxiously patronizing ‘Better not tell you now’.

Their website shows you one place you could end up:

GetGoing

Here’s how GetGoing works:

Step 1) Grab a computer or smart phone and visit their site

Step 2) Enter your preferred dates, where you’re travelling from, and your travel interests

Step 3) GetGoing goes to work. They serve up a list of destinations for you to choose from. These destinations are places that people will actually want to visit (i.e. they’re not going to send you to Chernobyl, Ukraine).

Step 4) You select your top two ideal destinations based on your preferred departure/arrival times, stopovers, and what you’re willing to pay (unfortunately for a penny-pincher like me, you can’t enter ‘Zero dollars’ or ‘I’m such good company that the Virgin Islands should pay me to visit’).

Step 5) Give them your credit number. Trust is a beautiful thing.

Step 6) From those two ideal destinations you’ve selected, GetGoing randomly picks one. They book your holiday and saves you up to 40% on flights. They only charge you for the trip they book for you.

Step 7) Only then, after it’s all booked, does GetGoing tell you where you’ll get tanned/relaxed/pregnant/mugged, and/or where you’ll be taking your next bragging Facebook photos of your spoiled tanned toes by a pool/beach/cabana boy.

Your payment page will look something like this:

5 - Payment page - Miami San Juan - OR
If you’re a truly curious adventurer, GetGoing’s a fun way to see the world. And if you’re a control freak, you’ll either be scared as hell or find it a refreshing way to release your fears and simply let yourself go. Speaking of fears, according to GetGoing’s CEO, Alex Vernitsky, the company is planning “Mystery Destinations” for “spooky places to go during Halloween.”

Vernitsky came up with the idea for GetGoing while he was on a long-haul flight with an “abnormally high number of empty seats on his plane.” Via email, he told me he wanted to figure out a way to help the airlines fill those seats at a discount. As a result, travellers are “able to afford more spontaneous trips.” It simplifies their travel booking experience, which is already flexible because as Alex says, “more than 50% of travellers don’t know where they want to go when they start thinking about a leisure trip.”

In practice, GetGoing is reminiscent of the eery parallel universes in the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow film, Sliding Doors. Remember that one?

Early in the film, Gwyneth’s character is running to make a London subway train as the doors are sliding shut. Suddenly the film splits into two alternating story paths, like a choose-your-own-adventure story except Fate picks her future for her.

In one story path, Gwyneth makes it inside the train before the doors close. In the other story path, she doesn’t make the train and her life spins in unexpected directions.

Depending on which ‘track’ Gwyneth’s life takes, her hair either stays long and pretty, or turns into a bad short pixie cut. And either she falls in love (Life Track #1) or her love life derails like a really feeble train simile (Life Track #2).

Movie executives call ideas like this ‘high-concept’ and I bet they’d describe GetGoing as a genius idea for a new travel industry player. Just imagine all the possibilities!

Upside (option 1):

You flip the coin, fly to Lisbon instead of Rome, and have the time of your life in a beautiful destination that you might never have chosen on your own. If you’re single, maybe you’ll fall in love with the man/woman/restaurant/hammock of your dreams!

Downside (option 2):

You flip the coin, get sent somewhere unexpected, and Fate decides to give you a horrible experience. You get mixed up with the wrong crowd and then — uh-oh — your head ends up in a box like Gwyneth Paltrow’s noggin at the end of Seven. Damn you, Fate!

What do you think? Is GetGoing brilliant or gimmicky? Will you let a search engine decide where you should holiday next?

— Ken Hegan

Read all Ken’s stories here

Twitter: @KenHegan

Photos courtesy GetGoing.com

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