USA Today | Travelers wanting to book a flight online will find fewer options now that two of the nation's biggest airlines have stripped their fares from some travel sites.
Those looking to fly on American can no longer book trips on Orbitz as of Dec. 21, while Delta stopped allowing three websites — CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com, and BookIt.com — to list its flights after Dec. 17.
It's a move that more airlines may follow in an effort to cut costs, promote their brand and increase their ability to sell aspects of the travel experience that bolster the bottom line, some travel experts say. But some industry observers worry that the winnowing of booking outlets could ultimately make it harder for consumers to find the best deal.
We head out to the PhoCusWright conference each year to find out what’s new in the world of Internet travel. This year’s was held last week at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ—and while we didn’t get a chance to play the property’s gorgeous golf course (which is so steeped in Scottish tradition you can rent a kilt to play in!), we did get a chance to meet with some cutting-edge creators of travel technology. Some highlights:
We like the new baggage icon at Fly.com, an aggregator website that compares airfares and itineraries from hundreds of airline and travel websites around the world. Click on the little suitcase next to the airfare for your itinerary and you'll get a window showing the checked baggage fees charged by that airline, giving you a better idea of the full price.
Orlando Sentinel | The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau has cut a deal with Travelocity.com L.P. that allows visitors researching an Orlando vacation to book their stay right on the agency's website.
The area's tourism promoters say they wanted to offer one-stop shopping on the site, VisitOrlando.com, which draws millions of potential visitors a year. The agency said that, after it talked with various online travel operators and other companies, Travelocity brought the "best total package" to the table.
The bureau site currently provides information about local attractions and hotels, but online visitors have to switch to other websites to act on their plans. (...) When the newly redesigned website launches early next year, the booking engine for flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages will not only make it easier for guests but will generate added revenue for the CVB through advertising and a share of any sales.
This past week Tibi, an upscale boutique clothing line, joined thousands of e-retailers by re-launching its website to include an online shop.
Amy Smilovic is the mastermind behind Tibi’s polished Manhattan brand, her main source of inspiration? Travel. In 1997 Amy moved to Hong Kong with her husband upon his relocation and there is where it all began.
After teaming with Octavia Hyland, she traveled frequently to the island of Java, working with small textile printers to create unique patterns (think batiks and ikats) in vibrant colors. These travels resulted in unusually perfect pieces that still define the collection today.
In Flann O’Brien’s novel, At-Swim-Two-Birds, the protagonist takes a ‘vacation’ by propping a series of postcards around the wainscoting of his room and spending hours focusing on them, one at a time, while drinking to excess. When he gets out of bed at the end of the week, he feels like he’s gotten away.
While I’d never recommend such a voyage, here’s one way of getting away without leaving town. The man behind a great NYC blog, Scouting NY, is currently on a cross-country roadtrip, and his posts from the road may help you escape a little.
Mashable.com | Delta Air Lines has launched The Delta Ticket Window, a Facebook (Facebook) application that lets members find, book and share flights via the “Book a Trip” tab on the airline’s Facebook Page.
Delta aims to reach travelers with Facebook-happy trigger fingers when it comes to travel booking. The application was built to keep the user on Delta’s Facebook Page for the duration of the booking process, as well as give them the opportunity to share their booked flight with friends.
Orbitz just announced the release of its revamped search engine, making the process of finding and comparing hotels that much simpler. What new features can you expect to see on the site?
Now when you search for hotels, you'll be able to compare property details on the results page; view an expandable interactive map (which not only plots the hotel, but shows its actual current rate); filter results by star/user ratings, price, and amenities offered; and my favorite: view the hotel via Google Street View (where available), so you know exactly what you're looking for when you show up. (Not to mention, take a look at the surrounding neighborhood.)
Travel Pulse | GulfTravelUpdate.com, a portal site that centralizes links to up-to-date travel and recovery information on Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi—the states directly affected by the BP Oil Spill. GulfTravelUpdate.com includes links to traveler information from federal, state and local sources, plus oil spill news coverage and a map featuring the spill's impact on gulf shores from media partner USA Today. Deals and special offers for travel to the Gulf Coast region are also available.
“This site compiles a tremendous amount of information from states, destinations and agencies on the status of beaches and coastal communities along affected areas of the Gulf Coast," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. (...) Photo courtesy of GulfTravelUpdate.com.
If your (lack of) winter break wasn’t exactly beachy, have no fear. A piece of the tropics may be pulling up to a New York City corner near you—and it’s free!
This week only, the Islands of the Bahamas is steering their Treats & Tweets from the Bahamas food truck around the grid, offering traditional Bahamian Mac & Cheese and Junkanoo Chicken Drumsticks alongside virgin Bahama Mammas drinks (okay, so it’s almost like being on vacation—but hey, you have to work).
Need help capturing this little ray of sun? The truck’s location is viewable on Twitter (@VisitTheBahamas) or Facebook (facebook.com/bahamas). On Friday, June 11th, truck patrons can enter to win a trip to the real McCoy, Club Peace & Plenty in the Bahamas. (Hint: Friday the truck will be located near Bryant Park, but you didn’t hear it from us).
Now that’s island hospitality.
Nina Fedrizzi is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.