Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Companies Opting Out of Low Price Searches

Last night I saw a commercial-- I wish the heck I could remember what it was for now. It was something along the lines of a finance or insurance company, and they were offering a deal that would not show up on a comparison search, such as Go Compare, in what looks to me to be an enticement for potential customers to come directly to them instead of risk them finding a lower rate on a comparison website, which are the internet's "hottest thing" equivalent to, say, sliced bread. It got me thinking, "yeah those businesses must be in fiercer competition than ever." All of them- vehicles, hotels, rentals, airfares. Do comparison websites help or hinder these companies?

Today I started to find out. As a valued customer and AAwards member, I received an e-mail from American Airlines saying they were ending their partnership with Kayak. Kayak, for anyone who does not know its majesty, compares hundeds of airfares, or airfare and hotel deals, for a specific (or unspecific) date, to your specific (or unspecific) destination. It has saved me bundles of time and money-- they don't charge a booking fee and add in the tax ahead of time, so it doesn't hit you over the head in the end-- especially with international travel.

I'll leave you with the highlights of the e-mail, Re: American Airlines Ends Relationship with Kayak and Sidestep (my emphasis in red):

American Airlines Fares No Longer Displayed On Kayak Or Sidestep
Book Your Next Flight On AA.com To Earn 1,000 Bonus Miles

Dear Leanne Joyce,

As a valued customer who has booked an American Airlines ticket through Kayak.com or Sidestep.com over the past year, we would like to inform you that American Airlines fares are no longer being displayed on these sites. You may still find our content through many other meta-search engines for purchase through our award-winning web site, AA.com. Tickets already purchased remain valid for customers traveling on American. **(so which is it? through a meta-search engine or on their website?)

At American Airlines, we are committed to saving you time and money by making AA.com your one-stop shop for finding the best fares. In addition to our Lowest Fare Guarantee, you have the ability to search for the lowest available price for three days before and three days after your original departure and return dates. So, when booking your next trip, be sure to visit AA.com.

And, as a special incentive, if you book your next flight on AA.com and travel by December 31, 2008, you'll receive 1,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles. **(why offer an incentive if they're award-winning and a one-stop shop?)

Thanks for choosing American Airlines. We look forward to seeing you on board soon. **(don't count on it, suckers.)

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