How Omni-Channel Marketing Can Help Travel Brands Fly Farther, Faster: Marketing Land, Josh Manion

Omni-Channel Opportunities And Challenges

omni-channel marketingThe travel industry offers a particularly clear lens through which to see both the challenges and opportunities of omni-channel marketing. First, there’s scale and complexity.

TripAdvisor (Disclosure: client), for example, is the world’s largest travel site, with 375 million unique monthly visitors checking out more than 5.2 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Many customers routinely use multiple channels to do research and make travel choices.

A Facebook and Deloitte survey of more than 10,000 leisure travellers, for example, shows it’s an industry in which consumers are particularly attuned to social media. This study found that social media is second only to friends and family as a source of travel ideas. Sixty-eight percent said travel reviews give them the confidence to book. Given that profile, how does a global company touch customers at the right time with the right offers across the best platforms, given the tendency for data to be fragmented and siloed across online and offline sources, and from one digital platform to the next?

Leisure and tourism company TUI Group (Disclosure: client) offers some insight. TUI Group’s travel services span tour operator brands, travel agencies, hotels and resorts, with six TUI-owned airlines and a fleet of cruise ships for seaborne holidays under the company’s core UK brands, Thomson and First Choice. Customers interact with travel products over multiple visits and sessions. Purchase cycles may involve many months or even multiple years. And when the traveller books, he or she may have looked at dozens of packages, destinations, hotels and resorts, in varying combinations. A single customer may have millions of unique combinations to consider when choosing a holiday. How does the marketing team keep track of customers as they browse travel products and packages across platforms and brand portfolios in a long sales cycle?

How can you ensure that marketing advertising and offers are contextually relevant, given that a single traveller may purchase in different circumstances, for a family holiday, business travel or a couples getaway? Capturing and integrating the data is crucial, as is the ability to remember a unique individual across time and through every interaction so that the brand can respond in context. Brand “memory” is embedded in data. For any brand, and certainly for a company like TUI Group, it’s the critical resource in customer acquisition, retention and loyalty. Let’s take a closer look. How To Implement Effective Omni-Channel Marketing • Go Beyond Data Silos. This is the way a brand can avoid “short-term memory loss” when it engages a consumer over a lengthy sales cycle.

In the case of TUI Group, for example, the company has built a sophisticated data collection system based on advanced tag management with a persistent data layer that ensures data quality and consistency, regardless of the varied ways it is collected over the company’s many brands and platforms.

The omni-channel customer profiles in the data layer arm TUI with a more complete picture of travelers to better deliver the right experience and best offers for each customer.

• Leverage First-Party Data. The ad exchanges, ad networks and data management platforms evolving to support programmatic media buying offer a powerful way to market cross-platform. But first-party data generated on a brand’s owned platforms are key, because they reveal consumer intent and preferences.

For example, TUI Group reports using first-party data generated by visits and other customer interactions to support programmatic ad buying with “dynamic retargeting” serving product advertising relevant to the consumer.

Programmatic media buying makes it possible to leverage the strength of internet advertising, the ability to target buyers on the channels they frequent and prefer. The end game is advertising that is contextual.

After all, you don’t want to market a family vacation with the kids to an engaged couple deciding where to go on their honeymoon.

• Market Across The Brand Portfolio. Many global companies manage multiple brands, and that makes the practice of uniting data at the level of the unique individual more challenging.

Continuing with the TUI Group example, the company unifies first-party data to consolidate that information anonymously against a unique ID. The process enables the TUI Group to see how brands interact with each other and the role they play in the customer journey.

Data fragmentation has been a huge and persistent obstacle to effective omni-channel marketing. Martech innovation has been enabling marketers to unify all of this cross-channel, cross-platform data, and in the process, gain a single view of the customer as he or she moves about in daily life.

While not always simple, this is the first step to meaningful engagement with consumers. It will not only deliver short-term ROI but also engender long-term trust and brand loyalty.

Source: How Omni-Channel Marketing Can Help Travel Brands Fly Farther, Faster

Marketing Land, Josh Manion

The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

Cover from The Hotel and Resort Operator's Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016 eBook

The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

Vizergy Vizergy – Digital Travel Marketing, the hospitality industry’s leading provider of website design and digital marketing programs, releases its eBook on how hoteliers can plan and budget to achieve the highest return on investment for the upcoming year. Budgeting for digital marketing can be overwhelming due to the rapidly changing opportunities and numerous tools available. This ebook helps hoteliers stay on track by providing thoughtful recommendations from top media analysts along with a free budgeting Excel template.

More than half of all hotel rooms will be booked online by the end of 2015 (Google Research). Therefore, establishing a strategic digital marketing plan to capitalize on this trend is vital to the success of any hotel property. Vizergy’s complimentary eBook explains how hoteliers can align their digital marketing budgets with business goals and gives useful tips on deciding how much of your marketing budget to devote to digital. In addition to useful budget recommendations, the eBook includes a hotel digital marketing budget template created by our experts with more than 15 years of hospitality experience.

Click here to get a complimentary copy of “The Hotelier’s Guide to 2016 Digital Marketing Spend” today.

Source: The Hotel and Resort Operator’s Digital Marketing Budget Guide for 2016

Contextual Marketing – How it works in the Travel Industry – Big Data for Travel – Boxever

Everybody is talking about contextual marketing, but really, what is it and how will it benefit our travel customers’ experience?

In the madmen days of advertising, you would reach a customer through billboards or television ads placed at very strategic locations or times. Outdoor billboards near snow-laden airports featuring warm, sunny climate destinations. Television ads for airlines running on the evening news, touting easy flights for business executives. When was the last time you saw one of those?

The marketing industry has come a long way and digital marketing has completely changed how we reach our target audience. Contextual Marketing means discovering the context in which specific audiences were to be found. It is about the digital fingerprint, looking at what a customer has done, what they are currently doing, and predicting what they may do in the future based on their habits and trends. In the past that meant taking advantage of situations like freezing cold northerners who drive by boards near airports as they head to and from work or business executives who travel that watch the stock market reports during the evening news.

The fundamental concept of contextual marketing reaching audiences when they are in a specific time and place or frame of mind for considering your product or service — is still very valid. The difference is that the information we now have to support contextual marketing is more personalized and enriched with more details.

Equally important, the channels for reaching travellers are now highly individualized and personalized thanks to the ubiquitous tiny screens that are ever present in our lives. Instead of reaching that winter sun-seeker on his or her way to the airport, you can beam them an email directly to their laptop or tablet. The timing has become fine-tuned as well. For example, you know they’re in a look-to-book frame of mind if you send a remarketing email within six hours of a fare or destination search on your website.

There are many data drivers for today’s successful contextual marketing.

When blended, these drivers create hyper-personalized offers and content timed to reach highly receptive audiences at exactly the right moment. These drivers can include:



Historic behaviour

Real-time information

For example, let’s take Margie Foley. An online travel agency has her in its database as a female, aged 36, who lives outside of Hartford, Connecticut. In the past she has travelled to Fort Lauderdale in early March, midweek, leaving at 7am, returning the following Monday at 4pm. Now add her device information – her email and cell phone number. Then, (here’s where it gets really fun) pull in some third party weather data.

The OTA uses a sophisticated travel marketing platform that includes a recommendation engine that creates contextual marketing offers on the fly. So, on a snowy morning in January, Margie is headed out the door on her way to work. The recommendation engine pulls together an offer for a great deal to Fort Lauderdale, including a discount for an extra night’s stay at her favourite hotel. Timed to reach her during her lunch hour – while the morning’s nightmare commute is still on her mind and the snow continues to pile up outside her office window — the offer entices her into a temporary reverie with a picture of a Fort Lauderdale beach at sunset. The discount encourages her to book now so she’ll have two months of looking forward to her vacation – surely a powerful tactic to get her through the New England winter.

Now, multiply Margie’s offer by the 2,000 other New Englanders in the OTA’s database that share a similar travel history and who are also staring at the falling snow. Divide by the fractional cost of beaming them an email and the efficiency of contextual marketing (cost divided by booking rate equals ROI) becomes very clear indeed.

But perhaps the most compelling thought is that contextual marketing is in its infancy.

As travel marketers become more sophisticated and begin applying what I call personal interest data, the recommendation engines will be able to layer in additional personalization that will really drive contextual marketing to a whole new level and really make it so that every connection is 1:1.

Margie, it turns out, is a rabid Red Sox fan and her name is in the team’s ticketing database. Imagine the team clinches the American League pennant. The next day, while visions of victory dance in her head, she receives a contextual marketing offer that includes a World Series package pulled together on the fly. Go Sox. Go Margie.

This 1:1 marketing is what our customers are coming to expect. There is a move away from generic advertising, which can be seen in the latest iOS release that has the ability to block ads. We now need to start looking at ways to interact and provide extremely relevant information and offers to our customers.

Source: Contextual Marketing – How it works in the Travel Industry – Big Data for Travel – Boxever

Study Identifies AdWords Benchmarks for B2B Verticals | KoMarketing

A new study by Bizible provides insight into benchmark data for AdWords success across seven B2B verticals.

Which B2B verticals are getting the most bang for their buck on Google AdWords? A new study by Bizible crunched the numbers using AdWords and Salesforce data to determine the answer and provide industry-specific benchmarks for B2B marketers.

At the top of the list, in terms of percentage of leads converting to percentage of revenue, are manufacturing and professional services. Both verticals were found to have a bump in opportunity-to-revenue conversion.

In manufacturing, AdWords represents 23 percent of all leads and opportunities generated and is responsible for 25 percent of the revenue generated by the entire pipeline. “This shows that leads that come from AdWords are high quality,” the authors of the study wrote.
B2B Marketing Verticals

Travel and finance verticals draw the highest percentage of leads (nearly 50 and 44 percent, respectively) from paid search. The travel vertical’s revenue percentage drops off significantly (to around 25 percent), but the finance vertical generates just under 40 percent of its revenue from AdWords leads.

“In every industry, AdWords contributes to at least 20 percent of all leads. PPC is clearly an important, if not the most important, marketing channel for those two industries (travel and finance) in particular,” the authors of the study wrote.

The analysis included data collected from 90 Bizible customers in the first six months of 2015.

Paid search top channel for ROI measurement

When it comes to ROI measurement, paid search was found to be the top digital channel by an Econsultancy and Oracle Marketing Cloud study earlier this year.

ROI is an important element for marketers to show their success, but also one of the biggest challenges. Approximately 24 percent of respondents to a study in February cited proving ROI as their top digital marketing challenge.

Source: Study Identifies AdWords Benchmarks for B2B Verticals | KoMarketing

3 Marketing Lessons From The Top Travel Brand Videos On Social

Digital video is taking off as a marketing tool, and brands are using it in more and more creative ways on social media. For travel brands – which can benefit from showcasing the visual elements of the experiences they offer – it’s especially important to have a strong video strategy.

Source: 3 Marketing Lessons From The Top Travel Brand Videos On Social 08/31/2015

Digital video is taking off as a marketing tool, and brands are using it in more and more creative ways on social media. For travel brands — which can benefit from showcasing the visual elements of the experiences they offer — it’s especially important to have a strong video strategy.

We researched the videos travel brands posted to Facebook that received the most likes, comments, and shares so far in 2015. A few clear themes emerged over and over again, giving us some insight into what makes an engaging travel video. Here are the creative marketing lessons we learned from the most engaging videos.

Tap into experiences everyone values

In the beginning of the year, Singapore Airlines created a video around something everyone can relate to: New Year’s resolutions. The footage takes a look at different groups of people and their resolutions that relate to travel. (For example, one man wants to take his family on their first family vacation ever, one woman wanted to take a solo trip, and so on). Singapore Airlines paid for their trips and documented their experiences. Much of the footage was filmed using GoPro-type devices, which gives the video a more personal vibe.

The video works especially well because it’s about something that’s consistent with an airlines brand. New Year’s resolutions are a common experience for people and travel is often a part of them. Singapore Airlines was clear about their involvement in each group’s trip, which works well because people value transparency. The video received roughly 105,000 interactions and 218,000 views. (That’s nearly one interaction for every two views.) It’s the fourth most-engaging video from a travel brand so far this year.

Give your audience an inside scoop

In February, KLM released a video demonstrating how autopilot on planes works. It gives viewers an inside look into the cockpit and the procedure of flying from the pilot’s perspective — all the way from takeoff to landing. The video got shared on Facebook nearly 30,000 times and was viewed over 2.2 million times. It’s the eighth most-engaging travel video this year.

The reason this video works so well is that it taps into an area of people’s imagination. Fans love to get the inside scoop into what’s going on, and they appreciate feeling like they get to access something that had been inaccessible before. That’s one of the reasons why, for example, the McDonald’s video earlier this year showing how their fries are made got a lot of attention.

Overproduction isn’t always necessary

Not every video needs the planning and precision of a full-length feature film. Social is a great place to share real things that are happening. When overproduction happens, brands can often appear ingenuine and out of touch. Sometimes, the best videos can come out of filming real people experiencing real things.

In June, Virgin Atlantic uploaded a video of a surprise they gave passengers on a Detroit flight: Richard Branson and the Virgin Atlantic team arranged for the cast of Motown the Musical to perform in the aisles in celebration of the airline’s new Detroit service. The light-hearted video gives us a glimpse into the performance and the reactions of the passengers.

It’s clear this surprise was enjoyed by more than just the passengers on the flight; it received over 86,000 interactions and was viewed almost four million times. It ranks seventh on the list of top engaging travel videos on Facebook this year.

Perhaps the best feature of a strong video strategy is being dynamic. Travel brands can approach online video in many different ways. They have a huge opportunity to showcase visual content since it’s so closely tied to their industry. It’s important for travel brands to keep exploring to figure out which ideas are a hit and which are a miss, and they should continue to test out videos on social in new ways to continue connecting with their audiences. In order to succeed in the eyes of consumers, they must be willing to explore meaningful experiences and share openly with their audiences.

Easyjet launches major brand campaign to celebrate 20th birthday | Marketing Magazine

Easyjet is turning 20 and, speaking exclusively to Marketing about the launch campaign, marketing lead Peter Duffy said it wanted to showcase people’s own travel journey over the years towards what it now calls ‘Generation Easyjet’.

Source: Easyjet launches major brand campaign to celebrate 20th birthday | Marketing Magazine

Easyjet is turning 20 and, speaking exclusively to Marketing about the launch campaign, marketing lead Peter Duffy said it wanted to showcase people’s own travel journey over the years towards what it now calls ‘Generation Easyjet’.

Affordable travel as an enabler to let people do things they want to do is as relevant now as it was 20 years ago

In our need to quantify, catalogue, remember and reminisce, it feels as though there is always a birthday to celebrate or a special day to congratulate. Indeed, Ebay and the are both apparently celebrating their 20th year this year. But few can really claim a stake in behaviour change and, according to Peter Duffy, group commercial director of customer, product and marketing at Easyjet, that’s just what Easyjet are setting out to do in its birthday campaign.

According to Duffy, the brand started by asking customers whether there was any relevancy in celebrating. “We did research with customers to ask ‘was it even relevant to talk about our birthday or do self congratulatory work?’ What we found is that consumers really recognised the journey as a metaphor for their own travel journey.”

“They realised that there was a time before when travel was expensive and it was hard to get to the places you can get to today. What it’s done is changed the way we travel for anyone that uses Europe. You can now decide to drop into Nice or Budapest or Moscow, or even Leeds,  Edinburgh or Manchester,” he adds.

With a thumbs up from the customer, Easyjet is today launching a TV-led but multi channel brand campaign that aims to shine a light on people’s own travel journeys. Central to the messaging is the fact that, despite such a journey over the 20 years, the company still offers some flights for its original £29.99 price.

The birthday falls on 10th November and the company will host special events in key locations on that day, with a TV ad and digital work by VCCP promoting its landmark age launching from today.

If ever there was an inclusive brand, it’s us

The focal part of the social media activity will be asking customers to send in “iconic” images from their Easyjet travels over the years, which the company will print onto an Easyjet plane. It will also be running a curation-led content marketing effort by creating ‘top 20’ lists and guides for customers.

Duffy says that while he’s calling the campaign TV-led, he is keen to reiterate that video content is consumed by customers on the platforms they prefer. “When I think TV, I mean video content and people will receive that on whatever device they choose. Of course we’ll also [promote around] the Rugby World Cup and use digital to involve customers. If ever there was an inclusive brand, it’s us.”

But while Easyjet may have helped pioneer us towards a more mobile, travel-savvy nation or turned us into ‘Generation Easyjet’, the competition 20 years on is fierce.

“What’s interesting is that things are similar and some are different. Affordable travel as an enabler to let people do things they want to do is as relevant now as it was 20 years ago. It’s the industry that has shifted towards this way of doing things,” he says.

To stay relevant as a brand for the next 20 years, when the market will only get more competitive, Duffy says, “Consumers will decide with their feet. It will be a combination of being in leading airports, in the city and at affordable prices with great service. Our crew is famous for its attitude and that is our competitive advantage.”

14 Stats that Show Why Video Marketing is Important for Hotels. – 4Hoteliers

Source: 14 Stats that Show Why Video Marketing is Important for Hotels. –  4Hoteliers

By Nigel J. Rodgers

If hoteliers are looking to increase engagement and traffic to their websites, then video must be a part of the marketing plan as it is now the most sought-after form of content on the internet;

Most of the people on the internet are viewing videos and in a few years, the majority of content online will be video. There is countless marketing research revealing the popularity and impact of video.

Here are a few stats that show why video marketing is important for hotels.

  • 20% of users read text while 80% will watch a video with the same content. This shows that video is more appealing and easier to consume than text.
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Google, of course, is #1 and Google owns YouTube. So by having a hotel video on YouTube, your content will appear on the two largest search engines on the internet.
  • Every month, more than one billion people visit YouTube to watch more than six billion hours of video. YouTube is the promised land for marketing your hotel through video. On YouTube, your video content is exposed to a population of internet users that almost matches the populations of China or India.
  • 100 million internet users watch online video each day. Though not all of them are watching travel videos, this is still a large number of people who can possibly see your video. Even if only 1% sees you video, that’s still 100,000 users that have become aware of your property.
  • The average user is exposed to an average of 32.2 videos in a month. That’s about 3,864 videos a year. With users encountering so many videos throughout the year, your hotel marketing videos have a big chance of being viewed.
  • 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video. In two years, most of the people will be online to watch videos. Creating strong video content will help your hotel keep up with the times.
  • 33% of tablet owners watch one hour of video per day on their device.  89.7 million smartphone video viewers in the US in 2014. Viewing video on mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular. Be sure that your marketing videos are optimized for small screens.
  • Views of travel-related content up 118% year over year (YoY). The number of people viewing content specific to travel is increasing exponentially. Why not be a part of the travel video revolution?
  • 88% of YouTube Travel Searches Focus on Destinations. This is where the hotel becomes extremely important. When people know their destination, the next step is to find a great hotel.
  • Bookings are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour is available. As mentioned in my article about impactful types of video, digital tours of your hotel property are a powerful form of video content.
  • 65% of business executives visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video. A good video can generate more business traveller traffic to your hotel website which can improve direct booking numbers.
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI. Hoteliers want to gain from their digital marketing investments. Video is one of the more efficient ways to achieve those gains.

Interesting Quote About the Impact of Video

“One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words” – Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research

Though some have quoted this statement as fact, it is indeed just a hyperbolic twist to the “A picture is worth a thousand words” quote that is often used in content marketing. A picture is worth 1000 words, there are 30 frames (pictures) per second in a standard video, and there are 60 seconds in a minutes. So 1000 x 30 x 60 = 1.8 million.

Even though this statement isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s still a testament to how powerful video marketing content can be for your hotel.

E-Marketing Associates helps independent hotels increase direct bookings and reduce reliance on OTAs. We build innovative online marketing products that deliver the best ROI for independent hotels. Our products aim to ultimately drive top-line revenue.

New global retail study reveals consumer demand for new ways to pay

The world’s first retail focussed social listening study by MasterCard, highlights consumers desire for retailers to adopt new payment technologies

Source: New global retail study reveals consumer demand for new ways to pay

Shoppers around the world are demanding their retail experience is transformed, a study by MasterCard has revealed on the eve of this year’s World Retail Congress. Retailers are under increasing pressure to adopt new payment technologies, as shoppers demand simpler and more innovative ways to pay, MasterCard’s first Retail Social Listening Study has uncovered.

In a world first, the MasterCard study in partnership with PRIME Research, analysed 1.6 million unprompted online conversations around shopping and retail, across 61 markets in order to understand consumer experience over the last 12 months.

The global social listening study identified some of the key trends within the shopping and retail space, in order to provide retailers with stronger insights and understanding of their audience. Key findings from the study indicated retailers are experiencing a shift in consumer expectations, requiring new and richer experiences, which will enable consumers around the world to shop at the ‘speed of life’.

Key findings identified from the MasterCard Retail Social Listening Study include:

  • Convenience through technology innovations: New payment innovations and launches into the payments market stirred up the most conversation, the study found. The emergence of new digital payments lead to the most positive conversations around convenience (77%) with the travel sector leading the way in terms of the highest share of coverage. Consumers specifically highlighted their preference for not necessarily needing to take their wallet on every trip and being able to use mobile payments when they travel.
  • Being rewarded: Rewards and benefits for the consumer was the most vociferously and positively discussed topic across social media when it came to shopping and retail. Entertainment was the sector leading the way, where rewards & benefits was most discussed. Consumers expressed eagerness for further acceptance of NFC payments allowing them to receive rewards for using them regularly, such as with MasterCard’s Fare Free Friday’s in London.
  • Demand for increased acceptance: After rewards and benefits, consumer discussion of which retailers do and do not accept newer forms of payment was the second most discussed topic according to the study. Consumers discussed extensively their desire for retailers to integrate new payment systems, with conversations about fashion being most prominent in terms of sector. Fashion focussed shoppers were the most keen to shout about retailers who accept new methods of payment, such as NFC acceptance and mobile payment capabilities.

In addition, Twitter was highlighted as the globally biggest social media platform when it came to online conversations about retail and shopping.

Carlos Menendez, Executive Director for International Markets at MasterCard said;

“The wave of social engagement we see every time new payment innovations are rolled out truly reflects the demand and desire for new and more convenient ways to pay. It also shows that payments have really moved into the heart of the shopping experience – causing frustration when not accepted and engagement when fast, easy and personal.”

The Next Big Thing In Visual Storytelling? Destination Selfies.

Source: The Next Big Thing In Visual Storytelling? Destination Selfies. – Monday, 14th September 2015 at 4Hoteliers

By Frederic Gonzalo
Monday, 14th September 2015
Travel destinations are often among leaders using digital marketing and social media to convey their message and connect with travellers and potential clientele;

Instagram continues to makes strides within the travel marketing realm, as travellers and travel brands alike grow to appreciate and use the mobile application acquired by Facebook back in 2012.

In August, Instagram announced it will evolve and move away from its known square-photo format in order to allow panoramic shots as well. Not to mention ads now rolling out to mainstream access…

Destination Selfies, Japanese Style!

And then Tourism Australia comes along, with its Giga Selfie initiative. As you can see in the video below, this campaign aims the Japanese traveller market, tapping into an already hugely popular phenomenon – taking selfies – and bringing it to the next level through this new feature.

In selected destinations, such a Gold Coast over the past weekend, Japanese travellers (or anybody using the Japanese language mobile application) can snap pictures of themselves… and reveal lots more about the location where they are at!

A great way to show more and influence travellers’ circles of friends and colleagues back in Japan. Note that Japan is an important country to Tourism Australia with more than 320,000 travellers in the past year, representing $1.4 billion in visitor spend.

How long until we see a similar campaign here in North America or in another friendly country?

Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia –

The prospect of massive online travel consolidation has been triggered after Expedia won approval from US competition authorities to take over rival Orbitz for $1.3 billion.

The US Justice Department said a six-month investigation had found no evidence that the merger would lessen options for consumers. It noted that Orbitz is a relatively small source of bookings for airlines, car rental companies and hotels. Hotwire and are owned by Expedia, which also purchased Travelocity in January for $280 million. That paved the way for the acquisition of Orbitz, which reported $10 billion in bookings last year for air fares and hotels. Orbitz Worldwide owns ebookers in the UK together with and, OpenTable and Kayak are owned by Expedia’s rival Priceline.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association had argued that the merger would create a “duopoly” between Expedia and Priceline, which will now control 95% of the online travel-marketplace, a business that generates $152 billion a year, the Washington Post reported.

But Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department’s anti-trust division, said: “We know online travel booking is important to US consumers and to the airlines, car rental companies and hotels that serve those consumers.

Over the course of a six-month investigation, lawyers and economists from the antitrust division reviewed tens of thousands of business documents, analysed transactional data from the merging companies and from other industry players and interviewed over 60 industry participants of various types and sizes. “The antitrust division investigated the concerns that have been expressed about this transaction. We took those concerns seriously and factored into our analysis all of the information provided by third parties. At the end of this process, however, we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competition and consumers. “There are several reasons for this conclusion. First, we uncovered no evidence in our investigation that the merger is likely to result in new charges being imposed directly on consumers for using Expedia or Orbitz. So we focused our investigation on the commissions Expedia and Orbitz negotiate with airlines, car rental companies and hotels. “Second, we found that Orbitz is only a small source of bookings for most of these companies and thus has had no impact in recent years on the commissions Expedia charges. “Many independent hotel operators, for example, do not contract with Orbitz, and those hotels that do often obtain very few bookings from its site. In addition, beyond Expedia and Orbitz, travel service providers have alternative ways to attract customers and obtain bookings.

Source: Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia –