Are you getting the best travel deals by booking thru online booking engines (OTA’s)? Or are you losing options because the travel industry is being gobbled up by key players like Booking.com, Hostelworld, Expedia and other large players?What does that mean to you as a traveling guest? Since travel statistics tell us we shop 4-6 sites before we then book online, is the ease of using a large booking engine like Expedia or Booking.com costing us? The answer to that could be, maybe. Maybe more than you understand.
History of Travel Websites
The last couple of years have seen lots of consolidations and mergers. Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor are trying to find ways to make their free websites money makers. Besides having to deal with maddening ads on our emails and other places that were once free, many of us are beginning to find out there really is “no free lunch”. So what’s the back story? for example; Expedia has bought up several smaller players, Bedandbreakfast.com, Homeaway (which had mainly dealt with vacation rentals), Rezovation, which was one of the several small lodging system reservation softwares and was previously purchased by HomeAway. In addition, Expedia had long owned Travelocity, Hotwire, Hotels.com, Orbitz and probably a few others. Priceline owns Booking .com and Agoda…. All in all, that looks like a pretty decent growing monopoly. Bill McGee, contributing editor to Consumer Reports, in a 2015 article for USA Today wrote ” …there’s a long history of consumers not benefitting from mergers and acquisitions. And in most industries, customers are best served when competitors fight fiercely to please them, not link arms as siblings. Gobbling up the competition may help a parent company’s bottom line, but it weakens the marketplace for consumers”.