We are not quite sure how we missed this one, but Travelocity has launched a new opaque product (a la Hotwire or Priceline's name your own price model) within their current hotel product.
There does not seem to have been any fanfare associated with this launch - nary even a press release but then again, Travelocity may have been a little occupied with the ongoing booking fee battles to focus on this product launch.
The product is the same in name and offering as those offered on Travelocity's sister site in Europe, Lastminute.com
Consumers click on the link above (which could use some work, by the way - what is that hanging edge of the "top secret" logo on the far right?) and are directed to the page shown below.
Not unlike Hotwire, star ratings, amenities and a fixed (rather than name-your-own as at Priceline) price is shown. Traveler reviews are masked as well as any other descriptive data that would enable a potential customer to identify the hotel.
Unlike Hotwire and Priceline, however, the location of your mystery hotel (often the most important part of buying a hotel!) is somewhat hard to identify, to the point of silliness. The hotels above were listed as being in "Chicago" rather than a specific area or neighborhood of Chicago. This makes it pretty tough for consumers to make an intelligent choice - who wants to end up at O'Hare if you have a meeting downtown? Compare Travelocity's map with Hotwire's:
And then there is the supply issue. Things are early for Travelocity - we had a choice of 3 hotels vs. Hotwire's 34. Because of Priceline's opacity, it is impossible to know how many hotels Priceline has but, based on our experience, it is usually at least as many as Hotwire.
That said, assuming the suppliers can live with it, more choice is always good for consumers and we expect, particularly in these times, that Travelocity will be able to rapidly add more inventory - again, assuming hoteliers buy into the product.
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