Heat on Expedia-Orbitz deal continues but business as usual at Orbitz
The Expedia-Orbitz deal continues to receive pressure from various groups as it awaits approval from the US Department of Justice.
About a week ago the American Hotel and Lodging Association expressed its opposition to the deal saying it would negatively impact consumers and give Expedia 75% control of the online travel agency market.
Most recently, a member of the House Judiciary Committee subcommittee requested, in a letter to the DoJ, that the merger be “carefully examined.”
The subcommittee looks after antitrust and, according to The Hill, representative Hank John expressed concerns over the impact the deal would have on competition.
US lobby group Consumer Watchdog has also urged the DoJ to block it via a letter sent this week saying the deal would give the “combined company monopolistic control of the online booking market.”
During Expedia’s Q1 2015 earnings call in May, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said both companies were cooperating with the DoJ and that it expected the review to be complete by the end of the year.
In an email to Tnooz, a spokeswoman for Expedia said:
“Our take is that the $1.3 trillion global travel market is more fiercely competitive than ever as evidenced by the sheer number of ways in which people shop for and book travel.
We compete with a host of regional and global online and offline travel agencies, meta search sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Finder, search sites like Google and Bing, and the travel suppliers themselves who are aggressively seeking to induce consumers to book directly with them.
Bookings options for consumers continue to expand with Google, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and others now facilitating bookings directly on their sites.”
Meanwhile, Orbitz is claiming a first with the addition of package holidays to its mobile application.
The online travel agency, which Expedia announced it had agreed to buy in February (see below), says consumers are increasingly comfortable with more complex purchases on smartphones and it believes it is the first online travel company to sell vacation packages via its app.
The Expedia tablet app enables users to search for hotels and flights side-by-side.
According to a statement, the app suggests the best value flight and hotel packages and enables users to book in a couple of minutes.
The OTA adds that the service shows users how much they have saved by combining flight and hotel and enables them to customise the trip with various options such as different hotel, room type or flight time.
So far holiday packages are only available on the Android app with iOS to be added within a few weeks.
Orbitz chief product officer Chris Brown says:
“We are beginning to see an expansion of how consumers are using their mobile devices. Consumers are no longer only using mobile devices for searching or making last-minute plans but are increasingly booking bigger trips requiring more advanced planning.”
He adds that in the past year, Orbitz has seen a 100% lift in vacation package booked on the mobile website via smartphone with an average spend of $1,700.
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