Travel booking site Expedia has seemed to hold out on business-to-business travel operations, unlike some of its closest rivals. But experts a big-name acquisition will now fling Expedia into the B2B competition.
The firm announced last week that it will acquire competitor Orbitz for $1.34 billion, a takeover that means Expedia will also gain new B2B travel operations, including Orbitz Partner Network and Orbitz for Business.
The Orbitz Partner Network is the travel booking firm’s B2B travel offering for brands to market their own travel products; the operation offers independent travel agents resources to connect with travel services like flights and hotels, while also servicing large private labels through customized platforms.
Orbitz for Business, meanwhile, offers travel and expense management, booking services and other tools for business travel programs.
Expedia’s acquisition of B2B assets could be seen as a response to pressure from competing travel servicers. TripAdvisor CEO Julie Bradley told reporters last week that the company is looking to establish “more holistic partner relationships” with hotels, a goal that could include offering them booking, business listing and other solutions.
Another industry competitor, Priceline-owned Booking.com, has also recently boosted its business-to-business offerings. Priceline Group is currently working to integrate Hotel Ninjas’ property management system with hotel digital marketing company Buuteeq – both companies are now owned by Priceline. Industry experts say this strategy means Priceline is making a strong move into the hotels solutions business.
According to Skift writer Dennis Schaal, Booking.com and TripAdvisor’s latest B2B ventures could have left Expedia in the dust. “Booking.com and now TripAdvisor are getting deeper into the B2B side of the hotel business,” he wrote. “That leaves Expedia as the holdout that so far is maintaining focus on hotel distribution and is sticking to its proverbial knitting."
Not anymore. Industry experts say Expedia’s intense competition with Priceline mean the company has focused on B2B travel offerings, perhaps more quietly than rivals. And while reports say Expedia’s acquisition aims largely to expand the digital travel agent’s customer base, the package-deal means significant B2B operations will now land in the hands of Expedia.