The second type is the 'blind' sites which are similar to open sites but they allow a customer to bid a price, a location or a time to get his/her ticket reservation but a user may not know the airline, departure time or specific hotel until the actual ticket is bought. These websites also have the normal search functionality where a customer can view the travel fares without bidding. The third type of online travel sites are merely search engines popularly known as 'meta search engines' (Rand, 2006). The term means that they search other sites which provide air travel. The search engine goes through all available online travel agencies websites (open sites) and finds the best results for the user. (CR, 2008)
As mentioned above, there are three types of online travel agencies. These agencies fight within themselves to get the highest market share (Rand, 2006). For the analysis sake, the business strategy is compared according to these types.
Popular open sites include agencies like Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity amongst others. Orbitz (www.orbitz.com) strategy is to market itself in the eco-tourism and beats the other two companies in terms of thoroughness and provides car rentals and hotel reservations at guaranteed prices. Expedia (www.expedia.com) is a highly rated site which offers extra benefits to the customers like rewards for frequent flyers, going to less-common foreign routes and awards programs. Travelocity's (www.Travelocity.com) website is easily customizable to find what the user wants. Best fares, time frame and different combinations of airline, hotels, car rentals etc. can be entered as search parameters and found easily. (CR, 2008)
Two popular blind sites are there in the category, Priceline and Hotwire. Priceline's (www.priceline.com) strategy is to let travelers bid a price on where and when they want to fly. The website then searches for all available seats on any airline matching the cost, time and the destination. The bid can be rejected if the bid is too low, where a traveler can increase the bid and try again in 24 hours. Due to the inconvenience of not knowing the exact time of departure and airline, Priceline is best option only for people who are flexible and need a low cost travelling solution. On the other hand, Hotwire (www.hotwire.com) is successful on its own strategy. Travelers can select a tourism package complete with hotel and car reservation without knowing the airline or the hotel. However by specifying the location radius, the website can choose the best priced hotel within that radius. The site also offers consultancy with the help of historical trends which makes Hotwire more interesting and better in terms of customer perception. (CR, 2008)
Travel search engines like Kayak and Yahoo! FareChase are two of the most popular Meta search engines. Kayak (www.kayak.com) plays on its extra features like finding the lowest fares from a traveler's closest airport. Their deals with hotels and airlines return a very good price for the customers. Its most helpful feature includes the fare comparison tool that lets a customer check the lowest fares that other passengers paid for similar routes and to compare search results against those found on other open or blind sites. Yahoo!