Thomas Cook’s strategic alliance with Expedia could “lock out” the operator’s major competitors from signing with the OTA giant themselves, according to a leading technology consultant.
It was announced last week that Expedia is to become the preferred provider of hotels for Cook’s city and domestic holidays business, while its booking platform will provide all city break and hotel-only sales across Cook’s distribution channels in Europe.
Paul Richer, senior partner at Genesys – The Travel Technology Consultancy, said: “As a global business, Expedia has the size and financial muscle to invest in technology development in a way that Cook could simply not manage. In tying up with Expedia, Cook will be able to take advantage of this technology, Expedia Affiliate Network’s (EAN) substantial database of 300,000-plus hotels and – if Cook has done the right deal – potentially lock out its competitors from signing with Expedia themselves.”
Richer added that the deal reflected Expedia’s possible intentions to outsmart its own rival, Booking.com: “What Expedia has is superlative technology with EAN, and it is going all out to sign up hotels to compete with Booking.com.”
In a conference call, Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser stressed the trade would be able to benefit from an “increased range” of product which would remain commissionable to agents. “We will not exclude our travel agents,” he said.