Search Party widens level of comparison

Search Party has taken the process of searching online for hotel rooms to the next level, enabling consumers to compare total rates and hotels’ policies instead of just room price.


Search Party Desktop, a downloadable tool available at www.searchparty.com, automatically opens a side window with a grid comparing room rates, taxes and fees, price, cancellation policy and payment terms when consumers perform a search on Hotels.com, Expedia or Travelocity,


Hotels.com and Expedia offer best-rate guarantees, but Search Party claims to find lower rates than all three sites 50% of the time.


For example, Hotels.com offered a deluxe garden room at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego, California, for June 9 and 10 for $229 per night plus taxes and fees of $65.46– a total price of $523.46.


But, the Search Party tool showed that OneTravel.com offered the same room type on the same dates at that property for $174 per night plus taxes and fees of $31.04 – $379.04 in total and a $144.02 difference on a two-night stay.


Not only did OneTravel beat Hotels.com on the room rate, it also charged a lower percentage than Hotels.com in taxes and fees: 8.9% versus 14.3%. If cancellation policies and payment terms are a concern, Search Party provides this information, as well.


Unlike travel search engine SideStep.com, which also offers a comparison-shopping tool, Search Party Desktop compares the specific property and room type from Hotels.com, Expedia.com and Travelocity.com with those of Search Party partners.


Search Party president Eric Christensen said Search Party doesn’t search Orbitz because it hopes to partner the company, whereas Travelocity, Expedia and Hotels.com have already refused to play.


Search Party has deals with OneTravel, ReserveTravel, LastminuteTravel.com, Lodging.com, InterContinental, Hilton and Cendant hotel brands.


Search Party was founded two years ago and unveiled the beta version of its site in April.


It hopes to cash in on referral fees when consumers do their comparison shopping on SearchParty.com and then book hotels on partner websites.

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