Tripadvisor flight meta search expected in the UK within six months

Tripadvisor is hoping to launch its new flight meta search engine in the UK by the end of the summer this year.

Travolution understands the UK is the most likely international market to be targeted first as part of a wider programme to roll out the service, which was unveiled in the US in February.

A senior figure within parent company Expedia Inc told Travolution that meta search functionality for the flight channel on Tripadvisor UK would probably be in place by September 2009.

Although technology and functionality would be based on the system currently in place on the US version, local agreements need to be reached with carriers and other partners before the service can be launched.

A Tripadvisor spokesman in the US declined to comment on any launch date for the meta search product in the UK.

Existing meta search engines in the UK claim the addition of Tripadvisor into the market for flights will be good for the sector as it will raise awareness of the model amongst consumers.

However the expected scale of the proposition – if successful – is said to be unsettling a number of the smaller meta search players in the market.

“Given their current position in the food chain for searching and buying of travel, meta search is just another, I’ll say, annoying addition to their arsenal,” one senior figure in the meta search market said.

Last week, Tripadvisor Europe managing director Marc Charron told delegates at the PhoCusWright conference in Berlin that the meta search project had been in development for a year and created by a special unit within Tripadvisor.

He denied there was no link between the launch of the meta search product in the US and the decision by Expedia to axe booking fees on flights.

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