You may think that you are getting a great deal when you head to your favorite hotel booking site, but things have changed dramatically. With a world that seems to work with expanding companies’ empires by buying up their competitors, this was to be expected to a certain degree. If you happily think that all the websites you are checking for rates are competitors, perhaps this article will open your eyes.
When you talked about the big hotel booking sites that dominated the market, probably Expedia, Travelocity and a few others would have come to mind. Just a few years back everyone I knew used Expedia – that was the site to go to get great deals. If you were a smart traveler – you went there. But competition sprang up and now many of us use other options for our hotel bookings. But the scene in the background is very different yet similar in a way to what you would expect.
Expedia bought out its biggest rivals which were Travelocity and Orbitz. The takeover happened in 2015 when Expedia Inc. bought out the two along with other well known hotel booking sites like Hotels.com, hotwire, CheapTickets, Trivago, CarRentals.com, Wotif and Venere. Now Expedia Inc has a vast array of OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), booking sites and travel search engines that has been added to its portfolio.
Are you wondering what’s left?
Well, there is still what seems like independent online travel brands left on the market. These include Booking.com, Priceline.com, Agoda.com, RentalCars.cm and KAYAK.com. However, I said what seems like because in reality – they are not truly independent. All of these mentioned brands are owned by The Priceline Group.
At least there’s TripAdvisor. If I want to read reviews on certain places, I go here to get the inside scoop on many places, hotels and restaurants. TripAdvisor began as a spinoff of the wildly successful hotel booking website Expedia.com back in 2011. Now TravelAdvisor has grown to encompass the following sites as well. Are you ready? Now it owns Family Vacation critic, SeatGuru, Jetsetter, Airfarewatchdog, Cruisecritic, BookingBuddy, TravelPod, Tingo, VirtualTourist, independent Traveler, Flip Key, GateGuru and FlipKey. The way that they function is largely different from the way the other two parent companies work. TripAdvisor more or less leaves the acquired websites to run according to their own devices.
You will still get great deals no matter where you look but in a way the thought of only three companies controlling such a large segment of the market is a little scary. If you are planning to go for a cruise, there is no better site to use than CruiseCritic.com which is considered to be the best site fir receiving any cruising information. They are also the best site to check out cruiser bulletin boards.Viator.com has proved to be the favorite for those who like exploring by foot. They provide some of the best walking tours as well as various types of travel experiences using local guide services.
Not to give up hope. There are still many OTAs which run independently of any parent company mentioned here who go through it alone and still manage to do quite well. If you are abroad in Europe, you could decide to use Momondo.com which is a Danish based flight search engine. It also owns cheapflights.com. Even though it faces stiff competition from its highly marketable competitors who have bigger advertising budgets, it tends to do well. Hotelscombined.com proves to produce the best aggregator search results even though its main rival Trivago has lashed out with an advertising onslaught that it cannot possibly compete with.