Expedia’s Profits Don’t Live up to Expectations

Expedia, a giant among giants in the online travel booking game, is struggling. Sort of. The Washington-based company was riding high at this time last year. Their profits for the third quarter of ’07 were just shy of $100 million ($99.6 million to be exact). This year’s third quarter brought $94.8 million. Still respectable considering the hits the travel industry has taken during the summer and fall. And more than enough “walking around” cash for the company’s execs and shareholders. But the announcement that profits did not meet expectations was enough to drive Expedia’s stock down more than 15%. Though the number of overall bookings on the site increased by nearly 7%, the revenue from airline tickets, Expedia’s bread-and-butter, was down nearly 7%.

So it appears that even the muscular travel agencies of the internet are not immune from these poor economic times. If the “big boys” are suffering, imaging what it is like for the brick-and-mortar travel agents who have to compete with fewer people traveling and those who are turning to the internet for better deals.

[Via Seattle Times]

Fly to Cyprus for Less Than $40 US or Not?

OrbitzAlitaliaWell here’s a rather bizarre story about Orbitz, one of the third-largest online travel agencies and Italian airline Alitalia. Apparently the airline accidentally listed a business-class flight from Toronto to Cyprus at $39 US on a central reservation system which then feeds flight information to online booking agencies. CNEWS notes the incorrect round-trip airfare from Toronto to Cyprus with a stop to change planes in Italy was posted with multiple departing dates on Orbitz.com, where some very lucky and not so lucky folks will probably have the vacation of their dreams. Before word among online shoppers really began to spread red flags went off and Orbitz pulled the rate to discuss with Alitalia.

To cut the crazy tale short Alitalia will be honoring a vast majority of tickets booked on Orbitz.com for those who actually received confirmation numbers from the airline. Those who never got the airline confirmation will only be reimbursed the service fee paid to Orbitz. Having experienced an online error in the past myself I have to include a moral to this story and that moral is: If something seems far too good to be true, chances are it is far too good to be true. But ahh, those very, very lucky few! Most of all it teaches us to be extra careful when booking online where glitches may be infrequent, but can always occur.

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