Orbitz Worldwide says its multi-year contract with Hilton Worldwide and its 10 brands has expired and beginning March 2 it stopped showing some Hilton inventory and "reduced the prominence" of other properties on Orbitz Worldwide's global sites.
Hilton accounted for about 3% of Orbitz Worldwide's total net revenue in 2011.
A search for Hilton Hotels on Orbitz.com in Atlanta for a March 14 stay showed no Hilton Garden Inns, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hilton International properties displayed. The same was true for a similar search for Hilton properties in Chicago on Orbitz, and in London on sister site eBookers.com.
A previous search on Orbitz.com for Hilton properties in Atlanta turned up a few retail (pay at the hotel) options, but no merchant model deals from Hilton.
Neither side was giving up much about the details of the dispute, but it was clear that Hilton was sending a message to the industry that it is serious about its distribution economics and maintaining control of its inventory across all channels.
Due to the expiration of a multi-year agreement with Hilton Worldwide, Hilton is not currently a preferred supplier of Orbitz Worldwide. Hilton properties will still be available to our customers but will be less prominently displayed on our websites. This change will have no impact on Orbitz for Business, as corporate accounts will continue to have access to agency and negotiated rates. We will continue to work with Hilton to try to reach a mutually beneficial long-term agreement.
In a financial filing, Orbitz noted that the lack of an agreement with Hilton could put it at a competitive disadvantage with other online travel agencies and could have an adverse material impact if it can't replace the Hilton volumes with other brands, and if relationships with other hotels go downhill.
A spokesperson for Hilton Worldwide says Hilton decided not to renew its partnership with Orbitz as part of an ongoing evaluation about the company's strategic partnerships.
Hilton encourages customers to book their stays instead on Hilton.com or through its toll-free number, the Hilton Worldwide spokesperson says, adding that "any existing reservations at properties within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio that were made through Orbitz will be honored."
Hilton Worldwide's brands include Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, Home2 and Hilton Grand Vacations. Hilton has around 147,000 rooms worldwide and its new construction pipeline is about 50% outside the US, the company says.