Saving Time While Booking Travel Online
Before they haul out the big suitcase, before they put a hold on the mail and before they make house- and pet-sitting arrangements, a growing number of American travelers are taking a different sort of trip: a trip online. That's because travel arrangements have evolved, with Web sites often taking the place of travel agents in the organization and planning of family vacations, weekend getaways, business trips and more. In addition, in 2005, four out of five Americans who arranged trips on the Web also bought their tickets online, up from 70 percent in 2004. When booking a trip, many consumers use a site such as Expedia, Travelocity or Orbitz. These sites are known as online travel agencies, or OTAs, and they work by rapidly searching through many travel suppliers, such as airlines, hotel chains, etc. Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by MSN and Harris Interactive says that 75 percent of U.
adults who have ever taken a vacation visit three or more Web sites when researching and booking their travel plans. The question then becomes, why do consumers search multiple sites when planning and booking travel? Many do so hoping to find a great deal. But is it worth it to shop around? The answer is yes; no one OTA searches all of the travel suppliers in the United States, and each OTA has different arrangements giving them access to deals the others don't have. Oftentimes, consumers miss out on finding the best deals for their trips because they don't shop around enough or they don't know where to look.
One Web site, BookingBuddy.com, has all of the travel sites-from Expedia to Travelocity to JetBlue to Hertz-under one roof. While the site doesn't sell travel, it makes it easier and faster for consumers to book travel. A site such as this lets users enter their itinerary once and then search any OTA or travel supplier without having to type in the Web address and itinerary over and over again. It's a big time savings, and because it's comprehensive, consumers won't miss out on a site just because they didn't know about it or didn't remember it. And as with other OTAs, consumers can use BookingBuddy as a one-stop shopping portal for hotels, package deals and car rentals.