Last month Expedia joined more than 800 of the best and brightest developers and designers in the Bay Area (and beyond) to participate at LAUNCH Hackathon. We were proud to return as a sponsor for the second year in a row to continue supporting this thriving community of enthusiasts who share our relentless curiosity and passion for solving problems and creating new and interesting applications.

The LAUNCH Hackathon rules are simple. Teams come together to create something cool and functioning in 48 hours. To help expand our involvement at the event this year, Expedia’s engineering team played a huge role and invested months of hard work and dedication. That team designed and launched a brand new Expedia developer portal that presented 11 APIs upon which LAUNCH Hackathon teams could build.

Our onsite team participated throughout the entire duration of the hackathon, offering tips, answering questions, handing out the best swag (the Expedia travel kits in particular were popular among those hackers who stayed 48 hours straight). Ultimately we awarded more than US$10,000 in prizes to the top three teams who used Expedia’s APIs in the most interesting ways.

We challenged everyone at the start of the hackathon to show us something that Expedia hadn’t seen or thought about yet. Suffice to say, the event was a huge success. We were completely blown away with the quality and ingenuity of what the teams were able to create in less than 48 hours, and were left bursting with inspiration for ways we could extend Expedia’s API in the future.

While a significant number of teams used Expedia’s APIs in some way, there were three submissions that really stood out for focusing on the entire travel experience and pinpointing fresh, creative ways to improve upon it.

First Place: Dest

The Dest team built an exciting location discovery and travel planning app that integrates our Package Search API with Instagram. Designed to help travelers uncover new and exciting destinations based on geo-tagged images, Dest allows users to scroll through an Instagram feed and bookmark photos to find out how to get to the spot from which those photos were taken. This process requires a single tap; the app surfaces driving directions for nearby locations and recommends great flight and hotel package options for faraway destinations.

Second Place: ReTravel

Designed to bridge the gap between travel inspiration and booking, the ReTravel team utilized our API to create a solution that enables bloggers—or any travel inspiration content creator, for that matter—to build a template and populate a complete travel itinerary with one click. ReTravel allows travelers to create, modify, and book full trips based on inspiration from their favorite travel writers or bloggers. Thus, the app also gives publishers a system to monetize their content and drive users to their websites.

Third Place: PriceRangr

Thanks to the new sharing economy, there’s great opportunity for people who live in certain destinations to pocket some extra cash by renting their homes through services such as HomeAway and Airbnb. PriceRangr helps locals get the most for their space by uncovering how much money their homes or apartments are worth as rentals for any given set of dates.

Not only can PriceRangr help convince more people to list their homes for rent, it also integrates our Travel Trends/Urgency API to analyze demand trends and ensure that people don’t price their property too low or high for a given period of time. The app even recommends flight and hotel package deals that could enable homeowners essentially to go on a vacation for free (based on the amount of money they will receive from renting out their home).

Who knew 48 hours of very little sleep and non-stop travel hacking could be so much fun? Who knew developers would create such incredible new travel app ideas? Not only was the 2015 LAUNCH Hackathon a blast, but it also enabled us to gather a ton of valuable feedback and insights about exposing our internal APIs to the intelligent technology community. We enjoyed every minute of being a part of LAUNCH Hackathon and are more excited than ever about the critical role Expedia plays at the center of technology and travel.

If you’re interested in getting in touch with our technical teams or learning more about Expedia’s APIs and future hackathon opportunities, please visit our new developer portal at http://hackathon.expedia.com.