By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
10:30 AM EDT, September 4, 2013
Are reports of Travelocity's death greatly exaggerated, to misquote Mark Twain? Media sources have pointed to a long-term agreement signed two weeks ago between online competitors Travelocity and Expedia as the beginning of the end for the roaming gnome.
"It may be too soon to bury Travelocity, but it appears an opportune time to write its obituary," Justin Bachman writes in BloombergBusinessweek.
"Travelocity -- long viewed as one of the 'big three' online travel agencies (OTAs) along with Expedia and Orbitz -- has apparently thrown in the towel as an independent operation," Ed Perkins writes at SmarterTravel.
Joel Frey, director of public relations at Travelocity, says not so fast. He characterizes the move as a strategic marketing agreement, not a merger, not a takeover, not a purchase. And it's long-term, though no one is saying how long.
Travelocity, which he says excels at marketing, will play to its strength while utilizing Expedia's "top-notch" platform.
"Expedia will help us with technology, supply and customer service," Frey said, noting his company eventually would get paid for generating traffic. Travelocity is better at marketing, he says; Expedia has a top-notch platform.
So what should Travelocity fans expect to be different?
--Users will have the ability to book multi-destination hotel, flight, car-rental packages, which Expedia customers can already do.
--Travelocity will boost the number of hotels offered ("Expedia has about twice as many hotels as we do, especially in smaller secondary markets," Frey says.)
--Travelocity users will have the option of prepaying for hotels or paying at the hotel, which affords greater flexibility with reservations.
Travelocity still will be able to create its own landing pages for deals that will be different from what Expedia offers. Travelocity also recently sold its corporate travel business, known as TBiz, to BCD Travel.
There's no date for the changes to be integrated into Travelocity's website, something Frey says will happen next year. As for the gnome, he'll still be out and about, and appear on "The Amazing Race."
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