Will the Travelocity-Expedia deal be good for travelers?

B747/Shutterstock
B747/Shutterstock
Depending on whom you talk to, Travelocity’s unexpected announcement last month that it has reached a strategic marketing agreement with longtime rival Expedia will either create a dominant new Internet travel agency, give consumers access to more hotel choices or raise prices.

All three things could happen, actually, but the conjecture surrounding the announcement reminded me of the fallout from the last big online travel deal. After Priceline’s $1.8 billion purchase of travel-search site Kayak.com in 2012, I received an e-mail from someone who identified himself as a reader named Ben Tester.

As part of that purchase, Priceline promised to run Kayak independently, which is important because Kayak purports to display unbiased prices from hundreds of online sources. But Tester charged that since the acquisition, Kayak had quietly started to list hotel results from another Priceline-owned site without including fees and taxes, making its prices look lower “and misleading consumers.”
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The 6 best online travel agencies of 2013

D Arts/Shutterstock
D Arts/Shutterstock

In this year’s best online travel agency category, it was yet another close vote. Travelocity and Kayak were tied until almost the last minute. But then Travelocity pulled ahead with just seconds left in the voting — almost a photo finish.

Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline round out the list, followed by Hotwire.

I didn’t distinguish between so-called “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire and the “full-service” agencies. The list is a useful guide for anyone considering making a travel purchase online.

Here are the top online travel agencies of 2013 according to the readers of this site.
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A Travelocity typo triggers ethics crisis

oceanThe total price for a three-night Bahamas cruise package came to $2,058 on Travelocity. But that was before John Zimmerman applied a $1,000 rebate offered for a mid-level cabin through the online agency.

Then the rate was too good to be true – literally.

Shortly after booking the cruise, Travelocity unexpectedly reduced the $1,000 rebate offer to $100 and then eliminated it entirely. Appeals to the company were met with silence, so Zimmerman asked me to help.
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