Opodo puts ‘value’ of Meta search under scrutiny

Opodo has cast doubt over the long term viability of price comparison sites and Meta search engines.

Head of tour products at the pan-European online travel agent, Chris Roe, didn’t name specific websites but said Opodo had concerns over what is becoming a rapidly growing part of the online travel sector.

However his comments at the ITT conference in Oman this week are likely to be aimed at the likes of Travelsupermarket and Kelkoo, plus new players in the market from the US such as Sidestep.

“Questions remain as to the long-term value of Meta search and price comparison sites,” he told delegates. “I believe the importance of these Meta search sites needs to be determined.”

Behind the scenes it is understood concerns have emerged due to the costs of incurred by websites that use a GDS to provide air fare information that is then passed to price comparison sites.

Roe comments follow a period of frenetic activity for sites such as Travelsupermarket, following the recent launch of its own dynamic packaging price comparison tool and a multi-million pound TV advertising campaign.

In the past some industry figures have suggested the arrival of large US price comparison sites could have an impact on existing players and the natural and pay-per-click search engine area of the online travel industry.

But Nick Jones, category development manager at Yahoo! Search Marketing, which counts Kelkoo as a sister company, said it did not feel nervous about heavyweights such as Kayak entering the UK market.

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