B2B Travel Options Grow As Expedia, Priceline Do

From a B2B travel purchasing perspective, there are few things better than online services that try and beat airlines and hotels at their “every seat/room has a different price” game. But one thing that is better? When two of the biggest of those online services—Priceline and Expedia—are focused on trying to outdo each other in the “saving B2B travel dollars” game.

“The competition between these two companies is expected to remain one of the main themes in the coming years in the online travel sector as it evolves, moving from desktop PCs to mobile devices, from standardised to personalised online marketing, from hotel bookings to include more travel services, and sees the fast rise of Asian customers,” according to a story in TNOOZ. “The sharp rise in online travel retail sales in the past 10 years has put Expedia and Priceline at the top of the ranking of travel intermediaries, ahead of traditional players across both leisure and corporate travel such as Carlson Wagonlit Travel, TUI Travel, American Express and Thomas Cook. The success of Expedia and Priceline is also driving strong consolidation in the online travel agency category, with them well ahead of their competitors in terms of both sales and as engines of innovation.”

One tactic that Priceline is using to beat back Expedia is what the story calls a more flexible agency model. “The agency model allows customers to pay directly in hotels and to, generally, easily cancel their reservation, while the merchant model offers consumers less flexibility and requires prepayment to the OTA. However, the pattern of the first six months of 2014 seems a bit different, with robust growth in Expedia’s sales. A strong domestic performance has been driven by the migration of the US and Canadian Travelocity brand’s sales to the Expedia platform.”