Internet highway bumper-to-bumper with deals

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NEW YORK -- Finding an online deal for Las Vegas these days is as certain as being awash in neon while ambling along the Strip. Agents already familiar with booking Las Vegas can always access the latest destination information from a variety of sources through TripAdvisor, at www.tripadvisor.com.

At the site, clicking on Las Vegas retrieves guidebook articles about Las Vegas from DigitalCity.com, Frommers, Insider's Guide Online, Lycos Travel, Wcities.com, Fodors and RandMcNally. TripAdvisor also provides scores of links to recommended articles about Las Vegas, with sources ranging from the Washington Post to the San Francisco Bay Traveler -- although many of the selections are very dated.

Almost every major travel Web site, from Travelocity and Expedia to Orbitz, offers Las Vegas specials and packages. Some supplier sites offer commissionable bookings, while through others agents would have to charge clients service fees. Among last-minute sites, Site59 offers Las Vegas packages with 5% commissions, uncapped.

Late last month, the site was offering an $888.50 package for two adults from Nov. 8 to 11, including roundtrip air from New York (Kennedy) on Delta, a standard room at the Best Western Mardi Gras Inn and a compact car from Avis. Southwest Airlines Vacations, Lowestfare.com, American Airlines Vacations and Delta Vacations offer numerous air and hotel packages.

DeltaVacations.com, for instance, has an agent-only site with commissionable bookings. Late last month, Delta Vacations offered a package for two Dec. 14 to 16 from Atlanta for $1,186. The package included Delta flights, an Emerald Tower room at the MGM Grand, an Alamo midsize car rental and a travel protection plan.

One quick way to get an overview of Web offerings is to use a comparative shopping engine such as Qixo, Farechase or Sidestep. These sites comb various online agency and supplier sites to discover the best deals and provide booking capabilities. Searching for a one-night stay in Las Vegas for Nov. 12, Qixo retrieved 64 offerings from HotelDiscounts, ranging from $39.95 at the Four Queens to $329.95 at the Four Seasons.

In the weeks following the events of Sept. 11, a spokesman for Priceline.com indicated that the distressed inventory site had an abundance of inventory from traditional meeting destinations like Las Vegas.

However, the company's name-your-own-price model, with the identity of the supplier unknown until the itinerary is booked, is likely not worth the effort for agents.

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