Travelocity and Expedia, two of the biggest online travel sites, will begin working together next year, with Expedia providing content, technology and customer service for its one-time rival.
Expedia will become the technological force behind Travelocity’s websites currently operating in the US and Canada, allow Travelocity to tap into its listings for hotels and flights, and handle its customer service.
Some industry watchers said that the arrangement amounted to an unofficial merger. But Travelocity, which will remain a separate entity owned by Saber, insists that it will still go head to head with Expedia, despite their shared resources.
“We continue to compete with Expedia, ” says Travelocity spokesman Joel Frey.” If you think about mergers and acquisitions, one brand takes the other one over and brand b goes away. Travelocity’s brand is not going away. Travelocity’s brand wil continue to live on and continue to be a great option for consumers to shop and book and think about their travel plans. ”
After the new arrangement kicks in, consumers may not necessarily notice big changes. Frey says that Travelocity will continue to offer its own travel deals and pricing that is different from Expedia, and a travel search on one site may not mirror a search on the other.
“If we want to have a back to school sale or a fall travel sale we will do that, ” Frey says.” We’ll even have our own search algorithms so when a consumer does a flight search, the way the content is presented to them may look different than if you were to shop Expedia. So the presentation of offers, the marketing of offers, that’s where we’re going to compete. ”
But some travel analysts say that in many ways, Travelocity is being absorbed by Expedia.
“It really is a virtual merger between the two companies, ” says travel analyst Henry Harteveldt.” It’s as if the Boston Red Sox outsourced players, and team operations to the New York Yankees but the Yankees said, it’s okay, you can still play in Boston and still call yourselves the Red Sox. ”
Harteveldt says that Expedia has long out-paced Travelocity when it comes to online traffic and the merging of resources will likely save Travelocity’s owner, Saber, money that’s been spent on customer service, working with hotels, and other aspects of running an online travel booking site.
Despite Travelocity’s statements that it will continue to offer its own deals separate from Expedia, Harteveldt says it’s not clear “whether Travelocity will be able to compete based on price. ”
But regardless, he says, travelers will still have several other choices for online travel booking including Priceline, Orbitz and BookIt.com.