In what Orbitz Worldwide believes is a very significant deal, its private label service is slated to replace Travelocity's as the power behind the American Express Consumer Travel site in the second half of 2012.
Travelocity Partner Network's relationship to the Amex leisure travel site dates to this announcement in late 2004.
Orbitz Worldwide says its Orbitz Worldwide Distribution private label service will "develop a highly customized site" and full-service travel product for Amex.
Orbitz is to provide the site with air, car, hotel, dynamic packages, activities and services while Amex chips in with double Membership Rewards services for online booking and Fine Hotels & Resorts.
"Once implemented, the partnership is expected to deliver increased sales volumes overall and hotel room night growth for the Company, which supports our strategic initiative to expand our hotel business," Orbitz Worldwide says in a financial filing.
The fact that Orbitz Worldwide filed a statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to reveal the Amex deal means that the partnership is expected to have a positive "material" impact on Orbitz's business.
While that may indeed be the impact, the Amex leisure travel site doesn't usually show up in Experian Hitwise traffic Top 10 lists for U.S. travel sites, and American Express has never really lived up to its perceived potential in online leisure travel.
Orbitz sees its distribution business as a key component of its growth strategy and the Amex deal follows recent wins, including deals with Eurostar and Virgin Australia.
However, on the down side, Orbitz Worldwide's global hotel room nights fell 2% and 1%, respectively, in the first and second quarters of 2011, even though hotel growth is a pillar of its survival and growth strategy.
There's likely to be no word from either Amex or Orbitz on why Amex is replacing Travelocity as its site partner.
"Travelocity Partner Network has enjoyed a solid working relationship with Amex for nearly seven years and we wish them the best," says Dan Toporek, a Travelocity spokesman. "TPN remains committed to offering best-in-class private-label solutions to travel and financial services companies, including a significant new customer that we hope to discuss shortly."
As with all these sorts of things, issues related to inventory, technology and economics undoubtedly play a role.
Orbitz says it will begin powering the Amex site in the second half of 2012 "with no interruption in service during the transition."