Keenly aware that travel is the largest e-commerce sales category, Yahoo! and its rivals are exploring various methods, including user-created content, to increase their presence in the space. This year, Travelocity parent company Sabre Holdings bought IgoUgo.com, a travel "community" that allows users to post photos and travelogues. And last year, Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp bought TripAdvisor, which lets consumers post and search hotel reviews online.
Even Google has gotten into the travel field with a search feature for specific flight inquiries. The feature displays shortcut links between two locations at the top of the search results to travel providers. Once a user enters their preferred travel dates, they can click on a travel site link to generate a specific flight search.
"This is a search quality feature, and we have no formal agreements in place with the travel providers we offer shortcut links to," a Google spokeswoman told OnlineMediaDaily in an e-mail exchange.
Adding consumer opinion to the travel planning mix is presently the easiest way for companies to improve their existing offerings, according to JupiterResearch analyst Diane Clarkson. "The way forward [in online travel] is making the growing amount of consumer opinion available and searchable for consumers," said Clarkson.
Consumers will purchase $91 billion in online travel sales by 2009, according to JupiterResearch.