The Orbitz hotel shopping path just became a little metasearch-like.
Orbitz added a bunch of tools -- Google Maps with real-time room rates, and filters and sliders based on star ratings, reviewer scores, amenities and hotel chains -- which enable consumers to view the initial search results and then to do comparison shopping for other hotels.
The tools resemble some you'd find on a metasearch website and represent a twist for an online travel agency.
In fact, Orbitz says it "is the first major online travel website to enable detailed side-by-side property comparison upfront on the initial hotel search results page."
The big difference, however, is that consumers will be doing all of their comparison shopping on Orbitz and not, as with metasearch, on a variety of supplier websites.
So, when you search for hotels in Cleveland, Ohio, Orbitz serves up its traditional display of search results, but then in the left navigation pane, you'll find Google Maps with hotel pricing and all of the sliders and filtering tools. It looks like this:
When enlarged, the map offers satellite and terrain views.
In the Cleveland hotel search example, if you don't like the initial search results or want to comparison shop, one way of doing so would be to click on $89 on the Google Map, and you will see a box with information about the Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Davenport. Here it is:
Notice that you see the base room rate, the total price including "taxes and fees," the reviewer score, links to more hotel details and a Google Street View of the property. When you click the Select button, you begin the booking process for that property.
The introduction of comparison shopping tools in initial hotel search results represents another leading move for Orbitz in its hotel search experience.
Orbitz was the first online travel agency in the U.S. to introduce Hotel TotalPrice in initial hotel search results, and to offer Hotel Price Assurance.
The jury is out, however, on what these series of new tools will mean for the Orbitz hotel business and whether they will translate into concrete gains.