Risk vs Reward websites

by Dan Zambonini

Over the weekend, I was looking for some Manhattan accommodation between 8th and 13th December this year, for a vacation that a friend and I are taking. Not a city that's known for value hotels, I started with the obvious websites, and moved on to the 'riskier' ones:

Graph showing increasing risk with increasing reward, with points A to E going up the scale

  • A: The usual suspects. Expedia, Travelocity, Opodo, Orbitz. Standard hotel booking agents, offering standard-ish prices, but you know what you're getting.

  • B: Hotwire. Choose a location and a hotel rating, and you're given prices but without the hotel name. A bit riskier, but can be better value.

  • C: Priceline. Choose a location, a hotel rating and a price, and it automatically books anything that matches. Pretty risky, but the rewards (lower price) can be significant. I book most of my hotels through priceline, but this time it failed me, so I moved on to:

  • D: Craigslist
  • . I think this is the way I'm going to go. Plenty of vacation apartments to rent, at reasonable prices. Of course, you don't exactly know how much the vendor is/isn't telling you, but for the money saved, it's worth the risk.
  • E: Couch Surfing. A great site, and would have been my option of choice, had more Manhattanites signed up for it. Find a couch (usually free!) anywhere in the world, and meet new people while you're at it. There are elements that reduce the risk (e.g. an ebay-like feedback system), so it's not as dodgy as it sounds.

What else could be offered using this high-risk/high-reward model? Because sex sells on the web, an obvious choice would be a 'blind date' service (this might already exist?). Put in some basic details, and following a similar format to priceline, if anything matches, it'll arrange a place and a time to meet. If you're lucky, you'll end up with Scarlett Johanson. If not, you'll end up sitting next to a nutter like Ann Coulter (or for British readers, the very unlucky would get Linda Barker).

Maybe a map/directions service could also use something like this. "I'd like to go for a drive, for about an hour, starting at this point". It'll then give you directions to a random place within your specified limits. Not sure if this is useful, but could be interesting for a boring Saturday afternoon.

I also thought about online grocery shopping. It would be great if a random selection of international vegetables and breads landed on your door-step, but you're just as likely to get four cases of dog food and some icing sugar.

Anyone have any other ideas for a high-risk/high-reward web site?


2005-12-13 10:40:36
Other Risk, Reward web sites
I saw your Risk, Reward posting re: hotel rooms and wanted to say a couple of things. One, I just went through the htoel room booking process so I can empathize. Thanks for the nice summary of the process too.

I suggest doing a web site called Big Risk, Big Reward which covers ideas of potentially making money by taking more educated risk. My first candidate would be to change how people trade stocks and teach them that concentrating risk is what makes big reqards...not buying a bunch of stock or a mutual fund.

Good luck!