(PRWEB) September 29, 2004
Transparency is what most online shoppers are out for. The average user searches 3 different travel sites before making a buying decision. The best companies out there today will give the user exactly what they want, cheapest flights, best room rates, great car rentals, and cruises or vacation deals all at reduced search times. Travelgrove is looking for exactly that in one of the most interesting online markets today.
Many of the conventional travel marketing companies like Travelzoo, BookingBuddy, or Virtual Tourist have built super-searches, where users can enter their search criteria once and then select one merchant after the other.
Meta-Search is the newest innovation, mostly controlled by rather unknown smaller companies like Qixo, Mobissimo, Travelgrove,but also bigger players including SideStep and FareChase. What they all have in common is that they all search several travel sites at once and show you all search results on one page. A single click will take you directly to the booking page of the merchant offering the results.
Each of these companies have somewhat different revenue models and also different ways of displaying the offers. Qixo for example tags on a fee on top of the regular price, not telling the user who the merchant is.
Farechase is also similar, in not disclosing the merchant immediately (If it’s a consolidator). Travelgrove and Mobissimo are the more transparent with no user fees, as they display the merchants as well as pricing information. Furthermore, Travelgrove also allows users to select several other merchants in a supersearch fashion. So if people want to instead shop with a particular consolidator, they can choose this option as well instead of searching all at once. While this may not be as important with airfares and car rentals, the company believes that it will add great value for people looking for specific cruises and vacation packages.
The new travel meta searches offer a new and convenient way to search for travel related products. For the airlines they offer an entirely new and more efficient distribution channel.
The new structure let’s us believe that consolidators will be struggling because of this development. What will really happen is that the market will break into more segments. Travel products that can be classified as commodities for instance, such as airline tickets as well as car rentals, will be in the hands of these travel meta searches. All other products that will require somewhat more information and are not readily compareable, will most likely remain in the hands of consolidators and the providers.
The most successful travel meta search companies will not be the ones just finding low prices, as there will most likely not be a comparative advantage. The successors will be companies that can control search times and more importantly, they will be able to present the search results in the best fashion (mainly vacations, cruises and hotels). Look out for smaller players to see more innovative ways to create customer loyalty.
Anyhow, it’s a win win situation for most parties involved in the new search environment, as the development of these travel meta search engines will allow the market to further grow, and at the same time allow competitors to focus on more specific areas to be more profitable.
It will be interesting to see when the more conventional travel marketing companies will actually switch to the more user friendly model going away from the more profitable supersearch model and start focusing on usability again. One thing is certain, Yahoo bought FareChase and more similar acquisitions are going to follow suit.
Try Travelgrove’s travel meta search in action at http://www.travelgrove.com.