What Travel Industry Consolidation and Directional Selling Means To Your Trip Plans

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.

Travel Industry Consolidation

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.

Directional Selling Defined

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.

Take Action as a Smart Consumer

1. Always use comparison shopping at multiple sites to check your options for each of your travel choices.

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).

4. Use sites that compare the best deals and see where others are finding them (FlyerTalk and Bidding For Travel for example).

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?

Subscribe to other industry analysts who can help you keep on top of the travel biz. These include Aviation Blog, Elliott and Boarding Area.

Stay tuned via email or RSS and we’ll be keeping you up to date right here at Beat of Hawaii.

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4 Comments

  1. Pauline Kenny (6 years ago)

    Expedia just bought Venere, a large hotel booking site (with many listings for Italy). Recently Venere bought WorldBy, hotels and vacation rentals in Europe. The mergers continue.

    I wrote about this on my blog ( http://www.sloweurope.com/blog/ ) and linked to your blog post for more merger information.

  2. Pua (6 years ago)

    Aloha Jeff,
    Hope many tourists doing online bookings and traveling around the world, not only to Hawaii, will read this detailed information about the inner connections between reviewing and booking companies. Comparison and thorough research is key when using those agencies.

    Glad that I dropped by to read this article. I had not even known that Pauline Kenny sold her slowtrav to Internet Brands last year. Pauline had put an amazing amount of work into it!

    Reading her comment allowed me to connect with her blog and ‘new’ (new compared to slowtrav) site. The Internet makes it a small world, doesn’t it? Aloha, Pua

  3. Jeff (6 years ago)

    Hi Pauline. Thanks for your input. I didn’t know that your former site was also acquired by IB. I watched their acquisition of Flyertalk, which I still view with some skepticism.

    Aloha,
    Jeff
    Beat of Hawaii

  4. Pauline Kenny (6 years ago)

    Thanks for this information Jeff! My Slow Travel (slowtrav.com) site was bought by Internet Brands a year ago, but they run it pretty much the same as I did. I had been following Cendant and the travel businesses they own, but did not realize they were now Travelport (they own one of the large vacation rental databases in the UK). And I had no idea that Seat Guru, a site that I use all the time, was owned by Expedia!