Orbitz.com and ebookers.com have replaced Expedia as the online travel agency for MSN.com’s travel portal in the United States and United Kingdom respectively.The multi-year deal with Microsoft is seen as a bitter blow to Expedia, which started life as a Microsoft company in 1995.
Orbitz.com and ebookers.com will power all of MSN Travel’s offerings, including air, hotel, vacation package, cruise and car rental bookings.
Following the July 1st launch, MSN Travel customers in the United States will benefit from Orbitz.com’s unique new “Price Assurance(SM)” service, which refunds the difference in airfare for travellers in the event another Orbitz customer books the same flight itinerary for a lower price. MSN customers in the US will also benefit from OrbitzTLC, a service that proactively alerts customers with information about their trip via email, phone or text message.
Microsoft also plans to integrate more content from its newly-acquired Live Search Farecast travel search engine within the MSN Travel site as well.
“Our partnership with MSN will provide additional visibility and traffic to both Orbitz.com and ebookers.com, strengthening growth in both the United States and the United Kingdom,” said Steve Barnhart, CEO and president of Orbitz Worldwide. “As one of the largest Internet destinations in the world, MSN represents another significant win for growing our co-branded distribution.”
Orbitz Worldwide’s co-branded and private label business powers travel bookings for a number of airline, hotel and general interest websites.
“Orbitz provides an excellent online experience for its customers and has unique customer-focused services,” stated John Russell, senior channel manager of MSN Travel at Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft is committed to delivering innovative features that help our MSN Travel customers make smarter decisions, and the integration of Orbitz’s technology is another step toward fulfilling that commitment.”