Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pay-per-click fightback against meta-search engines

ONLINE travel agencies could start operating a pay-per-click model to fight back against the rise of the meta-search engines which access multiple websites.
Anite product marketing director Ed Spiers predicted the price comparison meta-search engines would take over the travel industry and become more powerful than the agencies and the search engines.
He described them as "travel agents without the fulfillment" that have the potential to develop "household brands in their own right to rival Expedia and threaten agents".
Spiers was speaking as part of a debate at the Travel Technology Initiative's Autumn Conference, held in London earlier this week.
Online research firm Hitwise revealed the meta-search engine market is growing rapidly. UK director of research Heather Hopkins said the number of visits to meta-search engines has increased by 216% over the past 12 months, while the number of hits on online agencies has only increased by 1%.
However, the online agency market is still 32-times bigger than the meta-search arena.
Despite this, Hopkins predicted the online agencies would start to operate a pay-per-click remuneration model, as the rise of the meta-search engines has started to erode the agencies' commissions.
Hopkins said that she effectively uses Expedia as a meta-search engine checking for the best price before booking direct with supplier.
"Online travel agencies would offer the option to go straight to the supplier’s site to book the product. This way they get a pay-per-click fee instead of missing out on the commission (with consumers booking direct with the supplier)."

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