Flight and component meta-search giant Kayak has moved into the package holiday sector with a new price comparison service on its website.
The move reflects the continued popularity of packages in Europe’s two main outbound markets, the UK and Germany, a fact which prompted Expedia to declare packages as its area of focus in February.
Kayak, which was bought by Priceline last year for $1.8 billion, will allow users to compare traditional tour operator packages with components and dynamic packages.
Jan Valentin, vice president of package travel at Kayak, said the UK beta version includes offers from 10 dynamic packaging firms including lowcost Holidays, Jetline and Bookable Holidays. It hopes to have Travel Republic on shortly.
It also has traditional packages from the likes of Thomas Cook and Cosmos and Kayak plans to bring in Tui Travel brands Thomson and First Choice.
Their deals will be comparable with component product from 400 airlines and 35 hotel providers.
Valentin said the technology has been developed to allow users to not have to pre-choose a destination and to make the hotel the main factor, rather than the flight.
“What sets our application apart from what’s already out there right now is we bring together more product to be compared. It’s very interesting to compare packages with booking individual components.
“The major differentiator is we’ve tried to make search for holidays more free form so you don’t have to go down the destination path, you can do all this in one step without having to think about destination as you do in most websites.
“We see how people search on Google. In a way we are trying to get them better results.”
Kayak has included filters so users can refine their results in terms of hotel attributes such as proximity to a beach and on other familiar factors like price.
It is also capable of providing inspiration allowing users to enter generic holiday terms such as ‘sandy beach’ or ‘best spa experience’ with results drawn from aggregated review and hotel information from 200 sources.
Valentin said: “People do not care if they buy a pre-package or a dynamic package. In the end it’s a package for them.”
Kayak said it will work with suppliers to ensure their deals are as up to date and transparent as possible.
This is a potential issue in the traditional package sector due to data caching and in dynamic packaging due to the use of budget carriers which levy additional fees in the booking process.
Valentin said Kayak would also offer information to customers about any additional services and products included in packages, like transfers.
It will also develop a way to show information about the Atol protection on offer from suppliers so holidaymakers can make an informed choice.
He said: “As a leading online travel comparison website, we understand that people want to find the best holiday deals as quickly and simply as possible.
“A lot of time and research has gone into the development of Kayak Holidays and we are extremely proud of the service’s capabilities, particularly in terms of our intelligent search technology, which is unique to Kayak.
“Our main objective is to fundamentally improve internet travel and the development of Kayak Holidays brings us yet another step closer to this.”