With vacation season underway, where can consumers find the best travel deals: at online travel sites, or directly from airlines?
Steve Hafner, CEO of Priceline-owned Kayak, said that sometimes, the better option is with the latter. "I think the best place to book an American Airlines ticket is through American.com."
In an interview with "On The Money", Hafner told CNBC that his Kayak travel search engine shows prices from an airline or hotel site "as an option, and we still show the OTA's, the online travel agencies."
However, "I think for most consumers, if you book supplier-direct you're actually in a better spot," he added.
Hafner co-founded Kayak in 2004. Eleven years later, the online travel hub runs more than 1 billion searches a year. He told CNBC that represents "more than 110 million searches a month" in 40 countries and in 18 languages.
"Historically, we did a great job at if you knew where you wanted to go, finding you the lowest price." Yet Hafner added the travel buyer now explores searches on the site differently, and can structure results according to affordability. "If you want to say, 'I want to go to a beach in June and for less than $500' we show you the options for that."
"What we do is very different from other travel sites," Hafner said, serving as a clearing house to other websites that provide travel pricing.
After a consumer comes to Kayak, "We'll take that request and send it to hundreds of other travel sites, both online agencies as well as airline and hotel sites. So they'll get a complete picture of what's available out there to purchase."