Travelzoo to launch UK version of fly.com by end of 2009

Travelzoo intends to introduce a UK version of its fly.com meta search engine in the third quarter of 2009, an official has confirmed.


And, the UK launch would be fly.coms first outside the US, said Brian Clark, a former Virgin America exec who serves as Travelzoo’s general manager of search products.


UK users accessing fly.com, the URL that Travelzoo purchased for $1.8 million and launched in the US in February, will see specialized UK content based on their IP addresses, Clark said, as would other users worldwide when the metasearch site eventually is introduced in other countries.


Fly.com, Clark added, will operate under its own URL, separate from Travelzoo’s site, although existing deals will be integrated alongside fly.com search results.


Shirley Tafoya, president of Travelzoo North America, said the company currently is discussing Fly.com UK participation with airlines and online travel companies (OTCs). Fly.com does not intend to enter into any exclusive relationships with OTCs, as kayak.com does with Orbitz in the US, for instance.


So, what would fly.com offer to differentiate itself from existing UK competitors and TripAdvisor, which is expected to debut its flight metasearch tool in the UK in the not-too-distant future?


Rather than displaying the first five or six lowest fares in a market, fly.com shows an at-a-glance flight summary of what various carriers are offering, and also posts various cabin fares, including economy and premium.


And, clicking on a why me button in certain display results gives airlines a chance to do some merchandising. For example, selecting Virgin Americas why me button produces the statement: Pilot your in-flight entertainment with your own 9-inch screen. Plus, every seat comes with a standard power outlet for your personal gadgets.


Fly.com also intends to provide in the UK a recently introduced calendar display that lists fare variations by departure date and gauges how the fare compares to the departure date that the user initially searched.


While Fly.com U.K. will offer metasearch – side by side fare comparisons – Travelzoo UK would also continue to offer SuperSearch, in which users can conduct searches using booking engines – albeit one at a time – from providers such as Expedia, Air New Zealand, Opodo and BMIBaby, for instance.


Tafoya said Travelzoo continues to make investments in both metasearch and SuperSearch despite fears in some quarters that one would cannibalize the other. Tafoya said Travelzoos research shows that some users prefer one over the other.


Tafoya added that a fly.com launch in Asia-Pacific would be a ways down the road.

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