Two online travel search giants are narrowing the selection of online travel search sites. Priceline.com and Expedia.com are both buying smaller search engines.
Experts admit they did not expect either of the travel industry’s largest agencies to tamper with the basic model of search engines which provide consumers with as many travel-related options as possible.
Buyouts May Diminish Value to Consumers
Market conditions, including hotel occupancy rates, have improved since 2009. The concern is that when Priceline buys the Kayak hotel search engine, it will diminish the value it provides to consumers as it may affect prices.
In the same way, Expedia’s purchase of the German hotel search site Trivago may influence prices. The expected result is that Kayak and Trivago will refer more business to their respective new owners.
Visit the Hotel Website
To bypass the problem, travelers can visit hotel sites directly. With so many options out there right now, you may find the same room for 5 different prices. The travel industry has improved enough that many hotels don’t feel it necessary to advertise rooms on either Priceline or Expedia.
Many hotels list “unsold” rooms directly on their websites. This permits travelers to deal directly with the hotel which allows them to take advantage of loyalty programs and price guarantees.
Talk with the hotel, as they will often match or beat a price listed with one of the metasearch sites or online travel agencies because they pay these sites a percentage when they book a room. For this reason, hotels prefer to use online travel agencies as little as possible.
Growth in the industry has flattened, so it is only natural that online travel agencies would look for ways to reach more people.
Experts suggest that the Priceline and Expedia deals will help consumers because they will have more information at their fingertips with less searching. However, travelers looking to book a room need to be savvy and learn to navigate the ever-changing landscape of online booking to find not just the cheapest deal, but the best deal for their needs.