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A Sharp Reduction in the Number of Important, Independently Owned Travel Websites is Threatening to Harm the Quality of Their Advice

Based on the ground-breaking research and analysis of travel expert Reid Bramblett, I recently wrote in these blogs about the shocking consolidation of what used to be three large online travel agencies—Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz—into what is now only one immensely giant online travel agency, namely Expedia. In just as shocking a development, Expedia has now caused the airfares and hotel rates in Travelocity to be exactly the same as in Expedia. And we can now expect them to do the same with the airfares and hotel rates in Orbitz. A classic instance of monopoly pricing has incurred.

I also pointed out that as a result of this consolidation, there were now only two, major, online travel agencies available to Americans: Expedia and Priceline.

But I neglected to point out that one other of the giant computer travel websites, namely TripAdvisor, has been on an identical quest to absorb and consolidate even more travel websites. TripAdvisor, that collection of amateur hotel and restaurant reviews submitted by the public, has now bought up no fewer than fifteen popular websites performing travel-related functions:,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

So now, when an American consults the internet for best airfares or hotel rates, or for answers to a travel problem or travel issue, they are usually dealing with just three giant companies: Expedia, Priceline, and TripAdvisor. What do you think will be the result of that astonishing degree of consolidation? Will the three giants graciously consent to make no use of their immense power, or will they strike deals with airlines, cruiselines and hotels to advance their own interests and not the interest of the consumer?

It should be acknowledged that thus far, TripAdvisor has not used its ownership of fifteen other companies to control and direct their efforts. Unlike Expedia, which proceeded to wipe out the independent actions of their properties, TripAdvisor seems to have left its "employees" alone. But how long do you think they will exercise such admirable forebearance?

There are a few independents left. But how long do you think they will remain independent? Having acquired virtually the entire digital travel world of size, how long do you think that Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor will put off acquiring the few remaining independents?

It is a tragedy that our regulatory agencies approved the acquisition of Orbitz by Expedia. But enough is enough. I suggest that attention should now be paid to the remarkable consolidation of the entire digital travel industry, which threatens the well-being of the travel consumer. Will some member of Congress look into this matter, and begin suggesting remedies?