Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Following the Lead of the Airlines, The World's Largest Car Rental Consortium Dissolves Relationship with One of the Big Three Online Travel Agencies

(Photo by Atomic Taco)
My apologies for that lengthy headline. But I felt it was important to emphasize, up front, the sea change that's taking place in the world of online travel agencies. A change that will drastically affect the way consumers shop for travel online.

It was just announced that negotiations have broken down between Orbitz and Enterprise (which controls Alamo Rent a Car, National and Enterprise, making it the largest renter of cars on the planet). No longer will users of Orbitz, or its sister site CheapTickets.com, be able to access rentals from any agency in the Enterprise group.

The move mirrors the one American Airlines took against Expedia and Orbitz in late 2010, when it announced that its tickets would no longer be available through those online travel agencies.

And it all may mean a lot more time online for travelers seeking the best deals. Travelers who have "go-to" online agencies for all their travel needs are well-advised to search more broadly. Where should they go now? Well, such sites as Breezenet.com and AutoSlash.com search all car rental agencies, with the first including mom-and-pop local agencies; and the second applying coupon codes for discounts. Sites such as Momondo.com and DoHop.com offer broad searches for airfares, hotels and car rentals though neither sells travel directly, they simply shift users to the actual travel agencies of travel companies.

It will be interesting to see which travel company pulls the rug out from under the "Big Three" next.

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