SideStep starts UK operations

US meta search operation SideStep has finally unveiled its UK and Ireland website with a major push for its toolbar functionality to consumers.

The first regional version of SideStep has been in beta mode since earlier this year but this week the company revealed its full remit of partners including 600 airlines, 125,000 hotels and 30,000 car rental locations.

The site also searches online travel agents such as Opodo and Ebookers for travel products.

A major part of the SideStep proposition to consumers in what many agree is already becoming a crowded market will be its Toolbar function.

The toolbar service was launched on the US site in the summer of 2000 and automatically sits within a user’s browser. The system activates every time a user carries out a search on another travel site and displays similar prices direct from the SideStep back end.

A consumer advertising campaign is expected to launch in the future as the market braces itself for a flurry of activity from other meta search engines such as Travelsupermarket and Kayak.

The European end of the SideStep business is run by Kevin Eyres.

The US site currently has around 5 million unique users a month and 9 million toolbars have been downloaded.

He said: “There has been a phenomenal boom in the online travel sector with travel accounting for 40% of ecommerce sales.

“The introduction of SideStep into the UK market means that travellers can be certain they have found the best deals available.”

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