Monday, March 17, 2008

Sun, sea, sand and search

Orbitz Worldwide, owner of, has added a feature to its (semi) eponymous US site which might raise a few eyebrows in Europe, not least among the big vertically integrated tour operators such as TUI Travel plc and Thomas Cook Group. features a link through to, where users can specify who they are (such as friends or honeymooners), what they want from the hotel (gay-friendly to all-inclusive) and what they want to do (golf to fishing).

‘Travellers want a different, better way to search for complex trips than just by dates and destinations,’ says Heather Leisman, Senior Director of Merchandising for Orbitz, in the press release.

Too right!

Travellers might also want to search more than the 450 pre-selected hotels currently on offer, but it’s a start.

TUI and TC have argued that one advantage they have over the OTAs is access to beach inventory - through the scale of their buying power, to say nothing of the fact they actually own or part-own a number of prime beach-front properties.

Even if this tool does turn up on ebookers in the future, it is unlikely that the balance of power will shift but it’s food for thought, particularly as Leisman also says that ‘marries the expertise offered by a traditional travel agent with the ease, convenience and breadth of options offered by an online travel site.’

Martin Cowen, chief writer, Travolution.

1 comment:

Alex Bainbridge said...

Not sure you appreciate how hard it is to categorise hotels using features that are not previously created by the hotels themselves (which is the historical way of doing this)

450 is a wonderful start!

Each one of those would have to be checked with the hotel.... this isn't easy (There are legal / trading standards issues in describing to a consumer that a hotel is appropriate for them when it isn't)

Besides, don't fall into the trap of thinking that volume is what a consumer wants. What a consumer wants is an effective filter - not an encyclopaedia.