Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mega, Not Meta, Move: Orbitz Enters Search Business

I wrote several weeks ago that Orbitz would attempt to maximize all of those lookers perusing its shop, take its media business a leap forward and get into the search business, possibly through a merger of some sort with Kayak.

Well, Orbitz, has entered the search business on its own, for now, by relaunching as a search business. This fairly huge development was brought to my attention by Tom Botts of the Hudson Crossing Travel Industry Insight blog.

All of the online travel agencies, who rightly refer to themselves as online travel companies, are attempting to ratchet up their advertising/media businesses because trying to make consumers complete a transaction sometimes appears to be as easy as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

So Orbitz, through , will attempt to garner meaningful revenue through all of that traffic.

Perhaps one day Orbitz's search business may eclipse its transaction business.

Tim Hughes blogged the other day about the differences between online travel agencies and metasearch companies.

One difference that he didn't talk about in any detail is that metasearch and other companies that facilitate searches of other booking engines, which is's tack, are sprouting up faster than you can keep track of. Meanwhile, launches of new OTAs are rare.

The reason is because search and metasearch is where the money is at, and the OTA business, with looker-to-booker ratios climbing every second, is under increasing pressure.

After all, Expedia Inc., with as its jewel, recently launched flight metasearch through

It is interesting that although Orbitz and Kayak haven't merged -- and such a game-changing move may be far-fetched or in the cards -- Kayak and sister brand SideStep are participating in

And so is everyone else, including Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, Travelocity, Bing and, among others.

Of course, Orbitz's is now in competition with many of these companies in the search business. Expedia, after all, has TripAdvisor, Travelocity fields igoUgo, Bing has Bing Travel and belongs to the Travelzoo portfolio.

This is a huge move by Orbitz, and more proof that Orbitz Worldwide CEO Barney Harford was serious when he said the company would push hard to ramp up its advertising/media business.

With air booking fees gone, the media/search business is looking so much more important.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

I've heard that Kayak hasn't merged or been acquired because Kayak doesn't want to be merged or be acquired. That's what happens when you have a founder who isn't necessarily interested in money.