[news flash] The Gnome and Negotiator are going head-to-head!
I'm surprised it took this long, but on Monday of this week, Travelocity added "top secret hotels" to its suite of travel booking products in a move to directly compete with 'blind-booking' travel giants Priceline and Hotwire.
Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and Priceline are constantly ranked within the top 10 travel 'agency' websites and always jockeying for the top position. With this in mind, it makes sense that Travelocity would attempt to take market share away from two of its biggest competitors, offering a similar service.
I'm sure Travelocity plans on beefing up this service, but at present, you can only book 'top secret hotels' in 34 US cities (expanded from 18 earlier this week) and 3 Canadian cities--and this doesn't even include Vancouver, a city basking in the Olympic spotlight.
In the past I've written about how to determine what hotel you're going to get when you book with Priceline and Hotwire via BetterBidding.com**. Although I like the element of surprise, I also like the logic behind Better Bidding's ability to predict your hotel 99% of the time. Unless Travelcity is using the same back-end as Priceline and Hotwire, because of the infancy of Travelocity's top secret hotel service, I won't be able to guesstimate what hotel I'll get with accuracy.
Moral of the story a) understand why travelocity is trying to compete with priceline and hotwire b) for now, would prefer to stick with sites who have been perfecting the blind-booking business model for 10+ years unless travelocity has significantly better savings or some other incentive to switch c) i love using betterbidding.com to figure out my hotel; can't do that with travelocity's new service because it is too young
How Travelocity's 'Top Secret Hotels' Works - search hotels rates already discounted up to 45% - choose a date and location - browse hotels that fit search criteria showing price and star-rating - book what works for you - hotel’s name and details provided after payment is given
*Traveolcity notes that their 'top secret hotels' are backed by their guarantee, which could be in the consumer's advantage in the event of a dispute. Earlier this year, I booked an airport hotel in Milan via Hotwire. Although the hotel was only two miles from the airport in a straight line, the roads from the hotel to the airport were convoluted, resulting in 20+ mins of travel time. This is not acceptable for an airport hotel, and when I disputed the matter with Hotwire, they would not change my booking.
**Note that BetterBidding.com is working on demystifying results for Travelocity's Top-Secret Hotels just like it does for Hotwire and Priceline.