the world's smartest travel social network
Who operates them?
Who is the cheapest?
How to find the best deals online?
Dear reader, I am willing to help you plan your escape/vacation and search for the best online touristic booking services that will help your dream come true.
You are familiar with the big names: Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity. They are all very good and very useful, and yet you might be confused trying to figure out which one will give you the best offer.
I began my journey with few simple questions: What distinguishes between those websites? Which site is the coolest? Which one brings the best offers?
1. Priceline Group
A leading name in the online hotel bookings domain, with over 170,000 worldwide hotels participating. This group is made of 4 main brands: Booking.com, Agoda.com, Priceline.com and Traveljigsaw, and other connotative brands. Priceline group provides online touristic services in Europe, North America, South America, Pacific Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Three of their companies are leading within the bookings market
This site specializes mainly in European hotels, with an emphasize on private hotels, and offers competitive rates. The costumer's credit card is given upon booking, but charged only while checking out.
A website located in Thailand. Specializes in hotels of the East market, and provides exclusive deals for this area. It was sold to Priceline in 2007.
It is designated by the cancellation possibilities, given with accordance to specific terms and conditions.
Priceline presents a reverse bidding gimmick. It is the costumer who suggests the rate to the supplier. If the offer was approved by the supplier, there is no cancellation option. In addition, the costumer is required to have a valid postal address in specific countries such as the US, Canada, Mexico, UK and more.
2. Expedia Group
An online trip booking site which is the biggest and most experienced travel agency. They specialize in working with big hotel chains, and in providing integrated services such as flights, concerts bookings and airport transfers.
The company was established by Microsoft 15 years ago and is used by dozens of millions.
The group is consisted of 8 main brands:
Expedia, Hotels, eLong, Hotwire, Egencia, CruiseShipCenters, Venere, Classic Vacations.
Hotwire – Specializes in a unique reverse bidding. The potential customer receives several low cost offers without knowing the hotel's name or address. Hotwire is only told about the area, the stars rate and the public's rate. If an order is being made, the name and address of the hotel are exposed immediately. The costumer knows he is choosing between hotel chains which are known and approved by the company, and which are listed on the website. The disadvantage of this method is that ordered cannot be canceled.
3. Orbitz Group
A global company leading in the online traveling business, using new technologies in order to offer leisure and business travelers with a variety of low cost touristic services.
Orbitz has started as a website focusing on booking flights reservations. During 10 years, the owners- 5 of America's biggest airlines: AMR, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United Airlines- have expanded their services into additional areas, such as hotel bookings, cruises, car rental and satellite products.
This group consists of 7 main brands:
Orbitz, CheapTickets, ebookers, HotelClub, RatesToGo, away, Orbitz Business
4. Kayak Group
An excellent global group, leading in the online traveling business, using new technologies especially with Mobile, in order to provide a variety of low cost tourist services to business and leisure travelers.
This group consists of 3 main brands: kayak.com, sidestep.com and swoodoo.com
Established in 1996, this American site is considered the oldest online travel agency and is still today one of the 6 biggest in the world market. The company is also operating full traveling services to business customers. It was established by Sabre Travel Network.
This site enables you to spend money easily, as he who enables you to save it. Yet this is not a reproach. When it comes to inventing new ways to plan and book a vacation, Travelcity is the the most innovative touristic company to be found online.
This information was taken by the group’s prospectus and from the companies' websites.
One thing in common to all the groups
All of these groups together hold more than 80% of the online booking market.
The information basis of each group is similar, although differences in rates can be found very occasionally. In addition, the daughter-companies use their visitor’s feedback page as their information source for public opinion.
When asking for a price quote in each of these sites, there are chances of getting similar offers within the same group. When looking for visitor’s feedback, there are chances of getting similar comments within the same group.
Number of rooms on each group is limited due to their own exclusive agreements.
Questions to be asked
Everyone promise you the best offer, and a refund in the case you find something cheaper. Have you ever really checked other places after paying?
How can you find the best offer at a given time?
Do you have the time to look in all the websites?
Are you confused by all the information?
Do you master the formation well enough?
The solution is to use a website that compares rates objectively and with no preference (no sponsorship, commercials and pop ups).
When it comes, this solution is still being developed by http://www.flght-seeker.com.
There is a new online comparisons website with a business partner who centralizes all the information regarding hotel bookings: http://www.hotels-seeker.com . You may notice the large group of fans on the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hotels.seeker
This website is not a booking site, but uses only as an accommodation rates comparison engine.
How it is done: The site performs an online scanning of all booking sites worldwide, sorting by country, city, accommodation name, date, number of stars, distance from city center' touristic services, rates range, popularity etc. The prices are valid to the same minute if the scan.
To avoid commercial comments and spam, each accommodation has a summary of feedback pages from big travel agencies' sites where costumers published their comments after checking out, which ensures that the person writing the comment has indeed stayed at the hotel. The prices comparison engine performs an adjusted calculation of these pages and so its authenticity level is statistically the highest.
The site is freed from commercials, sponsors and pop ups to remain objective.
In the biggest source online there are 255,000 accommodations in 220 countries, 121,278 destinations worldwide. All in all, 2,360,426 hotel offers (valid on 03.2012) which include all the information from all booking websites.
Accommodation services are: hotels, inns, hostels, holiday villages, BB, BB rooms for rent, villas and more.
The Site Scanner 350 Accommodation reservations websites. Here's the partial list :
AccorHotels.com, Agoda.com, BestWestern.com, ShowSupplier Description and Reviews, BookDirectRooms.com, Booking.com, CarlsonHotels.com, ChoiceHotels.com, dhr.com, EasyClickTravel.com, EasyToBook.com, Ebookers.com, eLong.com, Expedia.com, Getaroom.com, Show Supplier Descriptionand Reviews, Hilton.com, HotelClub.com, Hotelopia.com, Hotels.com, Hotels4U.com, HRS.com, ihg.com, LastMinute.com, LateRooms.com, Marriott.com, OctopusTravel.com, Otel.com, Priceline.com, QuickBeds.com, RatesToGo.com, Skoosh.com, Travelocity.com, Venere.com
The advantages of international price comparison