At a recent Travolution advisory board meeting, Clive Peoples, head of customer communications for Expedia UK, was brutally honest about how the company
rather dislikes views some meta search engines.
There are a lot of companies out there that will spend a lot of money just on advertising just to generate traffic and get bought by another company – and they are not long-term models. I have no interest in helping them do that.Ooh, ouch.
In the US there is work we’re doing with Kayak and other companies, but there’s just an awful lot of companies launching and we’re not looking to channel any of our profits into their back accounts to help build them up.
Now many people would assume that Peoples just happened to be talking about TravelSupermarket, which has splashed a rather considerable amount of cash on TV advertising - and has failed to persuade Expedia to work with it.
When pushed a little further, Peoples said:
We’ve got a very large brand, which is very good for us as we get a lot of traffic directly.We think this is rather fascinating stuff from Expedia and goes to the heart of the meta search-online travel agency issue.
Not being present on TravelSupermarket does not cause us any problems at the moment, because what we are seeing is that people are going to TravelSupermarket and are coming to us anyway as well.
What stage should the likes of TravelSupermarket be at before Expedia will allow its products to be listed? Some would suggest that a recent floatation - via its MoneySupermarket parent brand - on the London Stock Exchange might illustate resemble some degree of longevity.
But perhaps not.
Tim Frankcom from Yahoo! and Kelkoo defends the meta search model against accusations that it can destroy brands.
It’s going to be good traffic because it’s been refined, been through a filtering mechanism, so if it can be acquired at the right price and as long as they can convert it into a booking, then it actually makes sense for OTAs and suppliers to take part in it.The problem exists in other parts of the industry, where business types are still struggling to find ways to work together.
At a recent private dinner in London, the boss of an online travel agency struggled to comprehend why the boss of a very large traditional tour operator would still not allow a partnership.
Kevin May, editor, Travolution
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