The big news in the travel world today is Expedia’s purchase of Orbitz.com, for a whopping $1.3 billion; this follows their purchase a few weeks ago of Travelocity, for $280 million. It’s further consolidation of an industry that seems to do nothing but consolidate.
Take Expedia. Until today, they owned (among others, and just on the consumer side) Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Trivago and Travelocity. But it’s not just Expedia. TripAdvisor used to be owned by Expedia. Spun off in 2011, they now own (among others) TripAdvisor, FlipKey, Airfarewatchdog, BookingBuddy, Cruise Critic, Family Vacation Critic, GateGuru, Independent Traveler, SeatGuru, Jetsetter, TravelPod and Virtual Tourist. Priceline owns Priceline.com and also Booking.com, agoda.com, Kayak, rentalcars.com and OpenTable. And Orbitz, who Expedia bought today, started off as Sabre, which was begun by American Airlines and grew to include the other big airlines in the country, and then created Travelocity, which is now owned by, yup, Expedia! It makes me dizzy.
So what does this mean for you? Those travel websites you love, or that promise something unique, are probably owned by a larger corporate giant, and are selling different-hued versions of the same thing. Trivago ads feature a cool-looking guy who could an Apple spokesman, but it’s just a different slice of Hotels.com, which has more of a John Hodgman-as-PC-guy vibe. They likely have the same back-end deals with the same hotels, and offer similar things. Which may not change the way you book travel, but we think is important for you to know as an educated consumer.
We work with all of these companies, both on the consumer side and via b-to-b brands that don’t sell to the public. They all have advantages or disadvantages, depending on the trip. Which is why we pick and choose the best booking method for each trip and itinerary, as delivers the best value for that client. Every trip is custom, as is the booking process for that trip. That’s why we charge fees — to ensure we can give each trip the time it needs to be planned.
We’re not owned by anyone. So we don’t have quotas to meet or agendas to follow, or reasons to steer you in one direction over another when it comes to your honeymoon or wedding. We like that, and our clients do to. And as fewer companies seem to work this way, we like it even more.