Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Feb. 21, 2007

AAA OPENED ITS WEB SITES to nonmembers and made it easier for members to access the clubs' sites because members no longer have to sign in to view Web site content. Nonmembers can book on the Web sites, but can't take advantage of member discounts without joining their local club. Officials expect the revamped Web sites, which they label the first "online agency for motorists," will spur increased bookings, primarily from AAA members. The club Web sites, accessible by entering a zip code on AAA.com, will be the only Web sites to display AAA Diamond Ratings, except for hotel sites that license the right to do. In addition to enhancing the user interface, the relaunched Web sites include a new feature on AAA's TripTik travel planner tool that includes location and fuel prices for more than 100,000 U.S. gas stations, and mapping functionality that has been upgraded.

MEANWHILE, AAA, which champions its Diamond Ratings, plans to introduce user reviews of hotels, restaurants, attractions and destinations written by AAA members and nonmembers on its Web sites by the end of the year. Jeffrey Zimmerman, AAA's director of travel information and publishing operations noted that while AAA is "late getting into the business, online consumers expect it." Zimmerman added that AAA had previously introduced member-written cruise reviews, requiring that reviewers booked the cruise through AAA to ensure their legitimacy, but the number of reviews was inadequate. In attempting to increase the number of reviews, AAA is shedding that requirement and opening up review writing to members and nonmembers, he said. The automobile club opted to build up its review content on its own without entering into a partnership to do so.

KAYAKHAS LAUNCHEDKayak.co.uk after a few weeks in beta, and became Amadeus' first customer for the recently rolled out Amadeus Meta Pricer. The new solution conducts pricing and availability within the Amadeus GDS without burdening airline Web sites with voluminous and costly searches. Kayak spokeswoman Kellie Pelletier noted that airlines post almost all their fares in the GDSs, but restrict viewership. However, Kayak's use of Amadeus Meta Pricer makes the Kayak searches more thorough than agencies can generally perform because the airlines have given Kayak permission to view Airline Tariff Publishing Co. Category 15 (private fares) and Category 35 (Fare by Rule). Both categories contain some fares that would be considered Web fares. Kayak states that its U.K. site now conducts pricing and availability searches of 404 suppliers through Amadeus, ITA Software and Kayak-operated searches. The travel search engine claims to be the largest search site in the U.K., having attracted more than 2 million visits since the beta site went live in December.

ORBITZ, MEANWHILE, has launched a microsite, at http://roadwarrior.orbitz.com, geared to attract incremental bookings from unmanaged business travelers who may have already been using the online agency site. The new Orbitz site, which is integrated into Orbitz.com, is designed to emphasize business hotels and services for business travelers whose companies do not have managed travel programs.

SABRE NOW PROCESSES the majority of Expedia's bookings in the U.S.," according to Sabre Travel Network spokeswoman Kathryn Hayden. That's a milestone in Expedia.com's relationship with Worldspan, which for years had the sole franchise on Expedia.com's GDS bookings. In fact, with Sabre now processing bookings for Expedia.com and another Worldspan partner, Priceline.com, Sabre Travel Network's consumer online transactions grew 81.3% to 19.1 million in fourth-quarter 2006.

Technology Editor: Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

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