In five years, will Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity still be around?
That may sound like a nonsensical question. But these online travel agencies, and their other, often smaller compatriots, are under increasing attack by both the hotel and the airline industry, neither of which enjoy paying commissions to middle men. If these two forces succeed in tempting away consumers, well, Priceline, Expedia and the like could quickly become the web equivalent of buggy-whip manufacturers.
The latest salvo in this quiet war comes from the International Air Transport Association, a global trade organization that works with more than 240 of the world’s airlines. It announced, at an Oct. 16 meeting in Abu Dhabi, what it’s calling a “new distribution capability.” What that means: A number of airlines will be experimenting with ways to customize tickets and fees - but ONLY for passengers who book directly on the airline’s website.