Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: January 11, 2006

YAHOO AND ITA SOFTWARE signed a contract in which Yahoos FareChase metasearch engine has the option to use ITAs QPX airline pricing and shopping system. The QPX system, which ties into numerous airline res systems and claims to process shopping queries across all airlines within 15 seconds, would put less of a search load on FareChases airline partners when there is no direct-connect between FareChase and the airline. Although FareChase has a partnership with Orbitz, use of ITA technology would diminish FareChases need to strike partnerships with online agencies to tap into their airline relationships. A Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed that Yahoo and ITA Software have a contract but said FareChase is not using ITAs QPX system at this juncture. Meanwhile, metasearch engine Kayak, a competitor of FareChases, began using the ITA QPX system to access airline fares last March.

FEED ME! Orbitz said, as it began offering consumers RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds highlighting updates on air, hotel, package, car rental and cruise deals. Orbitz said its RSS feeds, which deliver content and pricing changes in an XML format, will be updated daily for now, but by April most of these feeds will be updated regularly throughout the day. Although the air, hotel and vacation package feeds emphasize pricing changes related to selected markets, Orbitzs car and cruise feeds provide best rates on national promotions. Orbitzs RSS feeds are compatible with all major syndication readers and services, Orbitz said, although the Orbitz RSS sign-up page features http://my.yahoo.com, which serves as an RSS reader.

EXPEDIA.COM AND HOTELS.COM reached a new distribution and marketing agreement with Marriott International that Expedia Inc. believes will be a model for its new partner agreements. The three-year merchant hotel agreement, which replaced a two-year pact that expired Dec. 31, provides for a tiered compensation structure in which the two Expedia Inc. companies earn incentives when they drive business to Marriott during off-peak periods and offers Marriott properties flexible economic terms, said Paul Brown, president of Expedia Inc.s Partner Services Group. The agreement also calls for Marriott and Expedia Inc. to expand their direct-connect technology relationship globally, providing wider access to properties inventory and rates. Brown said the three-year duration of the agreement, which the company hopes to replicate with other partners, will enable Expedia Inc. and its partners to do less posturing in anticipation of the next contract negotiation and provide more focus on developing their strategic relationships. He noted that the customized nature of the agreement departs from a one-size-fits-all approach in that Expedia.com and Hotels.com can tailor marketing activities for Marriott not merely on a chainwide basis but also at the market or even property level.

HILTON HOTELS gave full accreditation to Expedia Inc.s Hotwire as an online opaque distributor. Previously, Hilton received temporary accreditation pending full approval. Since introducing distribution standards, covering such things as trademark and advertising practices as well as pricing consistency and technology issues, Hilton has accredited Priceline, Traveweb, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets and Lodging.com. Missing in action, so far, is Travelocity, which does not have a chainwide deal with Hilton.

NET TRANS, a Tronsberg, Norway-based collector and distributor of agency hotel commissions, and Worldspan signed an agreement in which Worldspans 12,000 traditional agency subscribers worldwide can use the vendors services. Net Trans processes commissions for IATA- and TIDS-approved locations. (TIDS is IATAs Travel Industry Designator Service operated for independent agents outside the U.S.) Once an agency signs on for Net Trans program, dubbed Active Commission, Worldspan will transfer the agencys hotel booking information, including itinerary changes, from PNRs to the Net Trans database. No special software or hardware is required for participating agencies. Net Trans collects the money and makes consolidated payments by bank transfer to the bank and in the currency of each agencys choice. Agencies can check commission-tracking status in real time through a password-protected Web site, the parties said.

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