Have you fallen victim to the traveler’s illusion of competition? Chances are we all have at one time or another. Today’s video explores the depths of the travel industry’s “Big Two” and how comparative shopping isn’t always what it seems. You can also watch and share this video on Facebook and YouTube.
So, you’ve picked your next travel destination and now it’s time to buy a ticket and book a hotel. Like any reasonable consumer, you pull up a few of your favorite websites and start searching for the best deals.
Competition is great, right? And you’re quite the savvy shopper. So you’re on your way to finding the absolute best deal online.
Only here’s the thing… There’s a really good chance that all of the websites you’re searching on are owned by the exact same company! See, you’ve got your Big Two: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings Inc.
Expedia Group is an American holdings company based out of Bellevue, Washington who did over 11 billion dollars in revenue last year. They own Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Trivago, Travelocity, HomeAway, and a handful of other travel services and aggregators.
Booking Holdings Inc. which was formerly called The Priceline Group Inc. is an American holdings company based out of Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S. who did over $14.5 billion dollars in revenue last year. They own Booking.com, Agoda.com, Kayak, Monondo, Cheapflights, OpenTable, and several others. They’re also majority stakeholders in Travelweb and Active Hotels and a minority shareholder in DiDi.
So often times when you’re searching hundreds of airlines at once and comparative shopping platforms against each other, you’re really just choosing between the Big Two.
And that… is the traveler’s illusion of competition.
The even crazier part is that if you try to get away from the Big Two, and to go, say Skyscanner for example, which is one of my favorite search aggregators, you discover a few Google searches later that Skyscanner is owned by Ctrip, a Chinese travel provider (who also own Trip.com and Tours4Fun), who are in turn partially owned by none other than our friends the Expedia Group.
And let’s not forget about every traveler’s favorite review site TripAdvisor, who own TripAdvisor.com, Airfare Watchdog, FlipKey, Jetsetter, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel, Tingo, Viator, and many others.
(Click here for a complete list of which websites these three companies own.)
While TripAdvisor has one of the world’s largest and most loyal user base of travelers, with over 400 million reviewers world wide, they only produced about $1.615 billion in revenue last year, far from the Big Two…. however about half of that revenue was from advertising deal with their two biggest partners, none other than Expedia Group and Booking Holdings Inc.
I’m not trying to steer you away from using your favorite services, but I do want to save you the time and trouble of comparing platforms against each other that are all going to produce the exact same deals. Your best bet, if you truly want to comparative shop, is to go directly to the airline and hotel websites before you book and see if the deals that they’re offering direct are better than what the aggregators are showing.
You can also bookmark a few price aggregator sites that are independently owned like Kiwi.com to see how their deals stack up against the Big Two. For a list of independently owned travel deal sites and aggregators, view my post: Independently Owned Travel Comparison Sites.
Keep on traveling my friends! And don’t let the traveler illusion of competition stop you from finding the best travel deals so that you can travel the world. While you’re here, watch more of my Travel Videos.
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