Travelers won't be reaping many rewards from a strategic marketing partnership announced last week between Expedia and Travelocity.
The companies say they will remain independent entities, "but what it really means for travelers is, sadly, the loss of a credible competitor," said travel analyst Henry Harteveldt of Hudson Crossing. "The Roaming Gnome [Travelocity's mascot] has thrown in the towel, hoisted the white flag and said, 'We can't keep up.' "
As announced, the deal calls for Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia to power the platforms of Travelocity's websites in the United States and Canada and gives Travelocity, which is owned by Sabre, access to Expedia's content and customer services beginning in 2014.
Travelocity hopes to be able to strengthen its business model and offer "a top-notch booking platform and a more robust supply of travel options," Carl Sparks, the president and CEO of Travelocity Global, said in a statement.
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While the arrangement is not a merger, it will "essentially make Travelocity an affiliate of Expedia," Harteveldt said. And while Travelocity retains the right to do its own promotions and offer its own packages, specials and last-minute deals, "how different the product and the pricing will be in 2014 remains to be seen," he added. "Will it be better? I'm doubtful."