Travel Meta-Search – A Threat or Opportunity to Existing Merchants?

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Travelgrove.com a new travel meta-search engine believes that by focusing on more branding solutions it can help existing travel merchants to build on their strengths and show users what they really have to offer.

The travel market is huge and growing. Even though the US has already seen online bookings for flights increase nicely over the past few years, other travel products still have plenty of room to grow. However airline tickets are also becoming commodities, and most consumers are looking for the best prices, so the average users visits 3 different websites before actually making a purchase. With travel meta-search engines or aggregators, these times are over. Search companies like Travelgrove offer a direct comparison of large travel merchants on a single screen.

The markets have become more transparent, and this transparency pays. The user finds pretty sizable savings on international flights for instance, but even a few dollars on a short distance flight are worth it when you haven’t spent a minute longer searching for it.

Aggregators, the comparison shopping sites for travel, are looking to show these differences.

Many consolidators as well as airlines are still a bit hesitant to try these new venues, as they are afraid of even more competition. A select number of companies however has already noticed the aggregators’ value. Many people believe that consolidators may take a hit from these new developments, but these people are most likely wrong. Consolidators have plenty of products to show that are very hard to be compared. They also offer some great add-on services on their sites, which should always attract enough people.

Interestingly, some consolidators are very excited about being compared directly in order to show their competence in a specific market. In fact, these companies are looking to brand themselves on these travel meta-search engines and are willing to work closely with them towards the goal of being the best in a specific market segment. They may only be interested in selling airline tickets to Europe or Africa, if these particular products are very profitable for the merchant, then it’s well worth working with an aggregator as a distributor as well as a brand builder.

Travelgrove believes that the new technology is simply enabling customers to clearly see a merchant’s strengths. You can’t expect a particular merchant to always be the cheapest for any flight, just as JetBlue or other discount carriers may be the cheapest for their particular routes, but they don’t offer any flights elsewhere.

Branding will be even more important in the future and also focusing on particular markets vs. trying to be the best everywhere will be essential.

Travelgrove believes in this trend and is trying to implement tailor-made solutions to push the branding opportunity. Some consolidators are still not ready to work with aggregators, partially because they don’t see the branding value behind it. One thing is clear however, sites like Travelgrove, will be attracting some large crowds in the near future. Who is going to risk not being on a shopping comparison tool, and by this actually demonstrating that their rates may not be competitive enough?

Travelgrove strongly believes that companies not taking advantage of aggregators may miss out on a soon to be huge distribution and branding solution.

To find out more about Travelgrove’s travel meta-search engine, please visit http://www.travelgrove.com

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Peter Suhayda
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