It was a transaction that flew under the radar, but can have meaningful implications for travelers. Two weeks ago, Expedia bought HomeAway.com for $3.9 billion. This continues the process by which more and more of the travel booking websites (for flights, hotels, car rentals etc.) are now controlled by the same few major travel companies. Did you know that Expedia and Priceline own 8 of the 10 biggest travel websites?
In case you did not realize, Expedia also bought Orbitz and Travelocity in 2015, and also owns Hotwire.com, Hotels.com, and Trivago.com (among many more). Beyond Expedia, your primary choice is Priceline, which happens to own Kayak and Booking.com. So this idea of competing websites seems to fall by the wayside when you realize that the same parent company owns so many of the websites we use.
To further drive home the point, your travel choices are limited to:
- Expedia Inc.: Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Venere.com,TripAdvisor.com, CruiseCritic.com, BookingBuddy.com, SmarterTravel.com, SeatGuru.com, AirfareWatchdog.com, IndependentTraveler.com.
- Orbitz Worldwide: Orbitz.com, CheapTickets.com, RatestoGo.com.
- Sabre Holdings Inc.: Travelocity.com, IgoUgo.com, LastMinute.com.
- Priceline.com Inc.: Priceline.com, Booking.com, Kayak.com, Travelweb.com, Lowestfare.com.
So when we are shopping around for the best travel deal, we are often just finding the same fares because they are driven by the same company’s search algorithm!
Which of these websites did you not know were owned by Expedia, Priceline etc.?