A reader forwarded me an email from HotelClub, a small but fairly well known booking website, last week.
The business was originally part of Orbitz, which was recently acquired by Expedia. From 16th February, it is effectively being closed down by merging it into hotels.com. Anyone with unused HotelClub Member Rewards will be able to exchange them for a cash credit at hotels.com.
The ever-increasing reach of Expedia is worth noting. You may think you are booking with an independent travel group but there is a good chance that Expedia is involved somewhere!
The current list of key Expedia brands is:
- Classic Vacations
In reality, the list is even longer because it excludes companies which are indirectly owned by one of the companies above.
cheaptickets.com, for example, is part of Orbitz. ratestogo.com was part of HotelClub which was itself part of Orbitz.
TripAdvisor, however, is no longer part of Expedia having been floated separately in 2011. TripAdvisor also has an ever growing list of subsidiaries including CruiseCritic, AirFareWatchdog, BookingBuddy, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel etc.
The key thing to note from this, when shopping around for a hotel or flight, is not to focus only on sites from the list above. If you do, you are likely to be getting the same price from different parts of the same company.
Expedia does not have it all its own way, of course. The big hotel companies have been fighting back using every trick in the book:
having exclusive discount rates on their own websites
restricting status benefits to anyone who books via a wholesaler
not allowing the accrual of points on room spend
With a stronger economy, the hotel groups have also been cutting tougher deals. Commissions are down and access to room stock at peak periods, including ‘last room availability’, has been restricted.
Expedia remains the elephant in the room however. As this article explains:
Expedia’s marketing spend is larger than Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) combined at over $3 billion.
Competing with that isn’t easy.