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Delta has cut ties with four more OTAs—CheapAir, Vegas.com, AirGorilla, and Globester—after dropping three other OTAs late last year. The airline is in the midst of a purge of sorts, as it seeks to shed a number of OTAs in the hopes of creating a more exclusive sales approach.
When Delta jettisoned CheapOAir, Bookit.com, and OneTravel just before Christmas, the airline said it wanted to model its sales approach after Apple. “We look at it very much like an Apple store versus Best Buy,” said Glen Hauenstein, Delta’s executive VP of network planning. “You can buy components or Apple products at both. Your experience in an Apple store is obviously quite different than it is at a Best Buy store.”
The goal here is pretty clear: Trim away the smaller OTAs, and consumers have no choice but to shop at the Best Buys of online travel (Expedia, Orbitz) or directly with the airline. Delta prefers the latter option, of course, because it cuts costs and allows the airline to market its ancillary services. But it clearly sees maintaining a presence on the major travel agent sites as worthwhile.
According to Tnooz, most of the OTAs Delta has cut retrieve inventory through a GDS, which gives the airline the option of discontinuing access at any time. It’s fair to assume, then, that more second-tier OTAs could find themselves cut off from Delta at any point. Bookit.com’s CEO told Tnooz that Delta gave his company two days’ notice before cutting off access to its fares.
Like the first round of cuts, Delta’s decision to drop these four OTAs will impact the OTAs themselves far more than consumers or the online travel marketplace. Most people will continue to access Delta fares via the major OTAs, delta.com, or human travel agents, and have no problem finding Delta fares.
Readers, what do you think about Delta’s push for more exclusivity?