Sam`s Club faces huge competition in online travel space

Wal-Mart, which just six months ago dropped its Web travel site after months of development and spending big bucks, is giving online travel another try—this time through its Sam’s Club division.
Sam’s Club, a nationwide members-only warehouse club, is partnering with East Greenville, Penn.-based
, a Web site specializing in value-oriented leisure travel, and to launch it’s own online travel service. Backing the site will be Amadeus Global Travel Distribution, the CRS that also backed the Wal-Mart travel site and owns 55% of
Sam’s Club is the first customer to employ Amadeus’ private-label offering, a fully integrated, end-to-end solution enabling a company to offer travel information and reservations on their Web site. This deal is a potentially significant one for the GDS—which has been a relatively small, but growing player in the online travel space—because it gives them access to Sam`s Club`s 40 million members.
Last September, Wal-Mart called it quits on its online travel business after what may have been one of the shortest forays into the space.
On New Year`s Day 1999, Wal-Mart rolled out its new Web site along with its much-anticipated online travel services, which allowed consumers to book flights through an array of airlines. Amadeus provided the online travel reservations technology—marking a major deal for the CRS, which is a relatively small payer in the online space.
Because of its strong brand and huge customer base, some thought Wal-Mart could make an impression in the online travel industry, against competitors such as Travelocity and Expedia. From the beginning there were some shortcomings of the service that most likely contributed to its downfall. For flight arrangements for more than four people, the user had to make more than one reservation, and it only accepted reservations for flights originating in the U.S. And with fewer bells and whistles and less content than its competitors, it was unable to make the impact it had hoped it would.
Whether or not this latest online travel venture by the retailing giant can fly reamins to be seen. What is clear is that will have to be more aggressive if it wants to survive in this burgeoning market—especially as new sites like Hotwire and Orbitz create more competion in the market.
Perhaps Amadeus` private label solution will offer the functionality that the Wal-Mart site was lacking.
“The private-label solution for Sam’s Club provides a highly personalized and completely branded online travel site,” said Brian Dickman, Vice President of Business Development for “Additionally, the private-label solution allows us through Amadeus to expand our current affiliate Partner Program, taking it to the next level and offering tremendous opportunities for websites of all sizes.”
The Amadeus private-label solution, which allows online marketers to build upon their own brand quickly and efficiently, is a powerful, cost-effective, and highly customized way to offer a comprehensive and competitive online travel service. From information and booking capabilities for air, car and hotel reservations to ticketing and customer service, this turnkey solution enables quick and efficient implementation of a secure, feature-rich travel site.
The private-label solution provides robust online booking capabilities for air, car and hotel reservations, low-fare search functionality, and management of special and discounted rates, as well as ticket fulfillment and customer relationship management services.
It delivers real-time access and booking through the Amadeus reservation system to some 500 airlines, 54,000 hotels and 48 car rental companies. Additionally, online consumers have access to content and services including travel news, destination information, travel tips and advice, and weekly e-mail travel deals.