Orbitz will shortly announce the re-birth of the Trip.com brand as a multi-site travel search engine akin to BookingBuddy.com, (an Expedia property) TripAdvisor (also owned by Expedia) Igougo, (a Travelocity property) and TravelZoo's Super Search product.
According to senior Orbitz executives we spoke with, Trip.com is an effort to continue to "maximize the revenue per visit" of "each customer that walks through Orbitz' front door." "Some consumers have indicated a strong preference for these types of comparison sites" and Orbitz will now offer visitors the choice of how to shop - an area "historically under served by Orbitz."
Orbitz is betting that offering consumers more choices in how they search and buy will lead to increased total revenues and better traffic efficiencies. Orbitz will now be able to convert visitors on either a transactional basis (by selling at Orbitz.com) or on a media basis (by referring to another site.)
Trip.com supports air, hotel, car, vacation packages and cruises and compares numerous sites including both meta sites (fly.com, bing.com and kayak.com) as well as traditional Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Travelocity, Hotwire, Expedia and of course, Orbitz and Cheaptickets.
Thus far, the only supplier direct link is to IHG's Holiday Inn. Three reasons are probably driving the limited supplier direct presence. First, Trip.com has just launched (interestingly without a "beta" tag) so many relationships are probably not yet in place. Secondly, particularly on the hotel side, many suppliers do not currently have an API (a structured way for two systems to talk with each other) that is easily searchable. Finally, Orbitz indicated that "unlike other sites," Trip.com will not follow the "strategy of offering complementary link-offs" to supplier sites.
Trip.com does a really nice job of allowing the user to select multiple sites at the same time on the search page and search all at once vs. some competitors which force users to click each site one at a time.
Trip will be operated as part of Orbitz Worldwide's Away Network which includes Away.com, Gorp and Outsideonline.