Much media coverage has been given the new and not so new travel search sites. WSJ - Ready for takeoff? is one of the latest. In some cases they have been called new travel sites and been compared to companies such Expedia, Travelocity and Expedia, from which they are, of course, very different. Rather than a competitor, they're perceive a threat to online intermediaries as they further exacerbate the trend towards commoditization of travel products and total price transparency. This can easily leave the brand image of such companies in the dust. Suppliers will be more in control of their pricing but none too happy over the easy comparison with their competitors.
The escape from being exposed "naked" on the web will lie in dynamic packaging, or bundling of components within an overall package price. Of course, packages with published prices will be comparable as well, which leaves the last line of defense, the truly dynamic package, assembled by the customer on a website on the fly without a published price prior to the site visit and completely tailor made with unpriced components. It will be interesting to see how this will affect the travel search engines and their growth potential. The fastest growth is in dynamic packages with single components growing at a slower pace.
The online travel market will undoubtedly look much different five years from know. Who will be the winners?