Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: January 25, 2006

ITA SOFTWARE will remain independent for now, at least and continue to develop its alternative distribution system and flight-search technology. Those facts can be taken from the travel technology companys announcement that it secured $62.5 million in funding. Battery Ventures led the round of Series A financing, joined by General Catalyst Partners, PAR Investment Partners, Sequoia and Spectrum Equity. The venture capital firms took minority ownership in the company. Employees and other unnamed investors none are airlines have majority control of the company, ITA said. The transaction actually was for $100 million, but around $38 million or so was used to buy some employee shares, and thus does not bolster ITAs development. Officials from ITA, which is believed to have been wooed by several acquisition-minded suitors, said the financing is the first such cash infusion since Amadeus threw about $1 million in seed money into the kitty in the 10-year-old companys early days.

ORBITZ was slated today to introduce OrbitzTLC , a sub-brand that will highlight its care alerts for flight delays as well as new alerts informing travelers car services of delayed flights. We are repackaging what customers want but dont know we offer, said Randy Wagner, chief marketing officer for Cendants Consumer Travel Americas. A former marketing executive at McDonalds, Wagner noted that sub-brands can modify a brand and stand on their own, like the Big Mac does for McDonalds. Wagner said OrbitzTLC will emphasize high-tech tools that customers want  but also the [customer service] people behind the promise. The OrbitzTLC initiative will also emphasize consumer-written hotel reviews and travel perks such as free breakfasts or two-for-one-discounts, for instance.

EXPEDIA.COM rolled out a pricing guarantee, apparently triggering a new round of best-price promises from other Web sites and suppliers. Expedia.coms Best Price Guarantee, introduced last week along with a new branding campaign, builds on its existing merchant hotel and cruise price guarantees by promising that it wont be undersold on air, vacation package, car and destination activity bookings subject to the usual fine print. The ink was hardly dry on the guarantees terms and conditions when hotel site Quikbook.com extended its rate guarantee to 72 hours from 48, and Travelocity indicated it is considering beefing up the Travelocity Guarantee. Meanwhile, Accor Hotels Sofitel introduced a rate guarantee last week, although an official said the timing was coincidental. For Expedia, if consumers find a lower rate on another U.S.-based Web site within 24 hours after booking travel on Expedia.com, the online agency will refund the difference and provide a $50 coupon toward certain future hotel and vacation package bookings.

AIRTRAN AND WORLDSPAN signed a multiyear, full-content agreement that means the low-cost carriers availability and fares will be available in the GDS. AirTrans schedules and fares were expected to be back in Worldspan Jan. 24 after a several-month absence. The companies said that AirTran will participate in the GDS at the Limited Connect level. A Worldspan spokeswoman said Limited Connect is for carriers that require limited functionality, but she declined to provide specifics. The AirTran-Worldspan agreement means that AirTrans schedules and fares may reappear on Worldspan-customer Expedia.com if Expedia and the airline can reach agreement. Meanwhile, AirTrans absence from Worldspan did not greatly impact Orbitz because Cendants Orbitz began accessing AirTran inventory from sister-company Galileo.

CONCUR TECHNOLOGIES, a public company in Redmond, Wash., agreed to acquire Outtask, which offers the Cliqbook corporate self-booking tool, for $67 million to $88 million in cash and stock. The amount of the transaction, which is subject to government filings, depends on the satisfaction of certain conditions as of Sept. 30, Concur said. The acquisition of Outtask, with its travel management capabilities, with strengthen Concurs corporate expense management services, Concur said.

Comments

From Our Partners

2020 Elite Island Webinar
More Family Fun in St. Lucia @ St. James’s Club Morgan Bay
Register Now
HAL_AlaskaCruising_Hero
Capitalizing on a Peak Year for Alaska Cruising
Read More
2020 Expo 2020 Feb
The World’s Greatest Show - EXPO 2020, DUBAI & ABU DHABI
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI