OK, this is so cool. I want to tell you about a very specific type of personal assistant: its name is Yapta, which stands for "Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant."
I've been using this as part of the company's private Beta for the past couple of months, and they have now moved into a public Beta, and I can talk about it. As you know, there are lots of good services out there to help you shop for good prices on airfare. Yapta is the first system I've ever seen that track prices even AFTER tickets have been purchased and alerts you when you are eligible for a travel voucher or cash rebate from the airline!
You see, most airlines have policies that allow you to get money back if the price of airfare drops after you purchase a ticket. Yapta will watch the fares, let you know if the price drops, and helps you get a travel voucher to get obtain travel vouchers - and in some cases, cash refunds - when the price decreases on tickets that have already been purchased. They make it very simple to start watching a trip you've already purchased - you simply enter the airline, the confirmation code, the price you paid, and your last name and it fetches all the details and starts tracking. In the past 3 months of private Beta testing, Yapta alerted its 275 test users to approximately $30,000 in eligible savings and refunds, for an average net benefit of $109 per traveler.
The other thing that is cool is their browser add-on that lets you tag trips you are watching and let you know if the price goes down. For example, from the Expedia site, I tagged a few different routes (clicking on the "Tag it with yapta" button) on a few different airlines for a trip I want to take next Christmas. Now I am watching them to see if any bargains crop up. Today, they track a respectable list of airlines, and I imagine the list will grow as time goes by.
This is a game changer, folks. Be sure and check it out - and sign up for your own account. It is free, by the way!