Friday, October 31, 2008

Expedia to run Google Sponsored Links

Google and Expedia have entered into a partnership where the online travel agency will display Google’s Sponsored Links on some of its international domains (UK and Italy according to Travolution).

This is a surprising move for a big OLTA which usually keeps the website traffic within its own pages (booking, fulfillment, etc.). But this is not Expedia’s first action in this area. Coming back last year, in Nov2007, Expedia has signed a deal with InterContinental Hotels Group and introduced a media-based pricing model which combined transaction pricing with clicks on specific IHG properties within

The real fact with OLTAs is that a significant slice of the users are using the OLTA website to search for the services and then choose to book directly with the supplier. This was one of the reasons for the Expedia - IHG agreement. According to Paul Brown, president, Expedia North America and Expedia Partner Services Group, “Expedia brings partners two sources of value in terms of transactions and exposure like a media company does. We display those hotels billions of times a year but that does not always turns into transactions on our sites.” (via Travelmole).

According to a Comcore study, the supplier websites account for 72 percent of online hotel spend as of first quarter 2008, a 3-percentage increase from the previous year. Hotel market share through online travel agency sites (e.g. Expedia and Orbitz) is now 28 percent, 3-percentage points down from a year ago.

The media model in online travel has been first introduced by meta-search companies which redirect the audience to the direct travel suppliers. Their main revenues are generated by the referrals sent to the suppliers and the use of sponsored links.

Interesting to see if other big OLTAs will follow Expedia’s step in the near future.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kall Out - A new way to search using only your mouse

Recently I discovered a new application for web search which just makes your life easier.

The Kall Out service allows you to search the Web without minimizing the screen and going to the Web by highliting in any web page the term your’re interested in and clicking the small icon which brings the search menu right to your face.

Kall Out is able to search by Reference (Wikipedia, Thesaurus, Google Translate, etc.), Shopping (Amazon. Craiglist, etc.), News (Google News, New York TImes, etc.), Images (Flickr, Google Images), Video (YouTube), People (Facebook, Linkedin) and more.

Most of the search results are displayed within a floating information palette inside the browser (IE and FF) while still letting you work online. Seeing your results in context, instead of opening a new window, avoids the disruption of constantly switching between applications. According to Kall Out’s website selection-based search allows you to get results up to 10-times faster than traditional browser-based search.

Kall Out does not stop here. It even brings the web search in your Office documents. Kall Out works with most of the MS Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, Power Point) and PDF documents.

Kall Out has also a customizable feature for the context menu (”My Kall Outs”) which allows the users to set their own websites where to search. For instance, I set IgoUgo website as My Kall Out in order to directly search for any future travel reviews I might be interested in whenever I surf the web. The bad thing with “My Kall Outs” is that the search results are opened in a new browser window instead of the discrete window.

Kall Out is a very useful tool in web searching I definitely recommend it to everyone.