Ebay ‘dragging its heels’ over travel move

EBay’s expansion into the travel market, some might say, have been somewhat exaggerated.

The online auctioneer is remaining characteristically tight-lipped about the future of its travel business, despite continuing to load more content on to its site.

Michael Hughes, head of sales and marketing for Cultuzz, the main accommodation content provider to eBay, reports adding 7,000 new hotel properties to the site over the past few months.

“We’ve managed to secure a number of new suppliers to be connected to eBay,” says Hughes, adding that a number of other suppliers, including tour operators and car-hire companies, are in the pipeline.

However, though Cultuzz has grand plans for eBay, Hughes says the world’s most popular auction site is dragging its feet on the travel front.

“One of the biggest challenges for eBay is that it doesn’t have a global travel strategy,” Hughes had observed in June. And the same still holds true, some four months on.

Hughes still believes eBay is planning to develop a global travel strategy, but observes that: “There are politics at play at the moment, and eBay is trying to decide what it wants to do and how it wants to develop”.

Hughes says the decision to formally advance eBay’s role in the travel marketplace ultimately lies within the eBay’s headquarters in San Jose, California.

Barring any directives from the site’s command centre, Hughes says Cultuzz will simply keep adding more content, namely hotels. But if eBay is to make a serious move into other areas, such as dynamic packaging, then some formal designs must be agreed, he says.

A dynamic packaging option on eBay is scheduled to go live on the German site in the fourth quarter of this year and rolled out in the UK next year, according to Hughes, who is developing the technology. He says those plans are still moving ahead, despite the radio silence from California.

EBay representatives in the UK are also remaining characteristically quiet. Hughes says, naturally, that it would be great news for him if eBay agreed to a formal travel strategy, and supported his expansion plans.

“If we want to globalise our business then someone needs to invest in our plans, which is why we’re turning to eBay for support,” explains Hughes.

If the measure of the market in India is anything to go by, where there has been a significant spike in bids on travel products this year, then Hughes has reason to be optimistic. “India is doing great now,” he says.

Hughes had hoped to kick start a renewed focus on travel with a report he submitted to eBay’s bosses this summer, which highlighted key reasons he believes eBay should home in on the travel sector.

“One of the key points I made in the report was that, 500 years ago, the market place was where people went to talk and buy goods. Today that marketplace is the web and eBay is perfectly positioned to be the biggest marketplace on the web for travel.

“EBay is losing its place in some core areas of its business and can use travel to win back members. I hope it takes my points on board and this will go ahead,” says Hughes.

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