My incident with Trip Advisor started me thinking about the wide-spread changes in the travel industry and how they affect all of us when we plan our trips.
Here are three examples that the industry would prefer that consumers not be aware of:
1. Expedia now includes Trip Advisor, Smarter Travel, Cruise Critic, Seat Guru, Booking Buddy, Travel Library and Travelpod.
2. Internet Brands owns Flyertalk, Slowtravel, CruiseMates, CruiseReviews, Vacationhomes, Vacation Timeshare and Rentals, Wikitravel, World66 and Vamoose.com.
3. Travelport, another travel goliath (previously Cendant), includes Orbitz, Wyndam, Avis, Budget, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Sotheby’s International Realty, Super 8, Days Inn, Ramada, Baymont Inn & Suites, Wingate, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, AmeriHost Inn and Knights Inn.
Online agencies and other travel booking sites (including the airlines’ hotel booking sites) influence bookings with businesses with whom the agency has a preferred supplier relationship.
That means that your choices are being directed based on where the booking company receives the most direct or indirect compensation. These capabilities are built right in to the software programs that agencies are using to book your trips.
Therefore, do not expect to be provided with unbiased advice. You may find a limited choice of travel arrangements that match your requirements.
Look for directional selling, especially in all of these commissionable areas: Cruises, Tours, Hotels, Air Travel and Car Rentals.
2. Go to the ultimate supplier site (airline, hotel, car rental company) and compare pricing before your purchase.
3. If you see a better deal elsewhere, don’t be afraid to ask if the supplier can match or improve that deal (which can often be on better terms than through an agency).
What the Future Holds
Look for even more consolidation, less transparency and more directional selling going forward.
Questions and Answers
1. How can you use Trip Advisor (and other review sites) effectively?
One of the best ways is to check the profile of the reviewer. Is this the only review he/she has written or have there been others? The more reviews the more likely it is you can trust what has been written.
2. How can I stay abreast of these rapid changes in the travel industry?