SkyMall, Yahoo! Launching One-Stop Travel Sites

Hoping to tap into the vast market for online travel booking, Yahoo! and SkyMall announced Friday separate competing sites designed to offer one-stop access to a variety of established Web travel sources. The Yahoo! Travel Specials Center targets travelers seeking last-minute bargains through huge listings of deals on airfare, hotels, cruises and rental cars.

The Yahoo! Travel Specials Center targets travelers seeking last-minute bargains through huge listings of deals on airfare, hotels, cruises and rental cars.

Team Yahoo!

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) teamed with partners including Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, the discount Hotel Reservations Network, UNIGLOBE Travel Online, Dollar Rent A Car, Renaissance Cruises and The Travel Company.

“We have signed up a very impressive group of specials providers to ensure that Yahoo! Travel users are exposed to some of the best travel deals available on the Internet,” said Susan Briggs, senior producer of Yahoo! Travel.

Skymall’s Game Plan

SkyMall (Nasdaq: SKYM) will target a more specific market, frequent flyers, with the July launch of skymalltravel.com.

The company, which plans to promote the Web site in the SkyMall catalog 1.1 million airline passengers see each day, will offer direct access to major airlines and booking services. Content and online booking services will come from partners including trip.com, MapQuest, ontheroad.com and Frequent Flyer Services, Inc.

“No longer does the frequent flyer need to visit multiple sites to plan and book their trip,” said Sandy Goodman, VP for business development at skymall.com. “Busy travelers will have the ultimate one-stop travel portal.”

SkyMall’s travel site is part of the Phoenix, Arizona-based company’s broader, $27 million (US$) investment in e-commerce, including the popular skymall.com site.

Most skymalltravel.com income will reportedly come from advertising, sponsorships, services and products sold on the site, SkyMall said. Neither Yahoo! nor SkyMall would disclose terms of the new partnerships.

Healthy Economy Feeding Travel Sites

Both new ventures reflect the rapid growth in online travel and expectations of much greater growth in the next few years. The National Travel Survey reported that 6.7 million Americans used the Net to make travel reservations in 1998, from 5.4 million in 1997. In addition, the strong economy has prompted more travelers to indulge their wanderlust: The Travel Industry Association of America says the number of U.S. travelers will climb 23 percent, to 34.6 million, this spring compared with last year.

But online travel sites have proliferated as well, perhaps as fast as any category on the Net, since the travel industry became among the first to demonstrate the potential of e-commerce. The biggest names, such as Preview Travel and Travelocity, now are but a few of dozens of major sites delivering desktop bookings, destination guides and promises of the best deals around.

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