A new trend is taking shape in the online travel market – the appearance and now, increasing popularity of travel search engines such as Kayak.com, and Sidestep.com. At first glance one might think, “another online travel agency.” Don’t let the look fool you, these are indeed search engines and they do aggregate travel products/deals from all over the web for you, the consumer.
Their unique value proposition is their ability collect and organize price information about various players in the travel industry. Their revenue model revolves around cost per click and CPM (cost per thousand impressions), syndication and supplier partnerships.
Since not everyone is familiar with this option, traffic tends to be very savvy and thus, highly qualified – leading to higher converting clicks than one might find in general search, such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN.
There’s a significant value here for the consumer – search cost declines with the improved and seemingly non biased aggregation of price information – multiple search options from many angles provide the consumer with robust information retrieval tools and great ways to sort the data. Advertisers such as Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz can pay all day long assuming a good return (which preliminary data sugggest is the case).
Here’s the key takeaway for the search marketer. This method of price retrieval allows any travel supplier to make themselves visible and stand up to the same price scrutiny as the big OTAs (online travel agents). You can also become an affiliate and syndicate the search tool on your site.
Looks like a world of opportunity may be opening up for the small tour operators and safari specialists of the world. But only time will tell how quickly, and in what number, people will adopt this new platform in their travel search.