Vacation.com contemplating consumer site

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla.-- Vacation.com may be planning to launch a consumer Web site, but the head of the Amadeus-owned agency group conceded that the site won't have the marketing clout behind it to go after the Expedias, Travelocitys and Orbitzs.

"The question is will we ever be able to drive enough marketing money toward a Vacation.com consumer site -- the $40-million or $100-million that Travelocity can," said Vacation.com president and chief executive Dick Knodt. "It's not going to happen."

Talk of a consumer site emerged during Vacation.com's 5th International Conference & Trade Show here.

"It's a tough journey, but we know we've got to do it," Dick Knodt, president and CEO, told reporters during a press conference here. "Because the biggest complaint I get is: 'The Internet sites are killing me.'"

The question of consumer site surfaced as Vacation.com this month enhanced its www.vacation.com site and the 2,046 agency sites it powers to enable consumers to search for inventory and access specials. But agencies handle the bookings exclusively.

The improvements come through a partnerships with Passport Online and its VacationPort product, which is a comparison shopping engine for vacations.

The next step under consideration, Knodt said, would be a Vacation.com web site to compete directly with the big online players. Bookings would be handled by member agencies or by a new incorporated company, owned by member agencies, he added.

Despite the challenge of raising adequate marketing monies, Knodt said such a Vacation.com consumer site is a possibility. "We believe that consumers are getting more savvy all the time and will book [at Vacation.com consumer site], he said."

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