The Expedia Affiliate Network, formerly called WWTE, had been providing hotel bookings to Eurostar on a private label basis for at least five years.
In the joint Eurostar-Orbitz announcement about the new partnership, neither party directly addressed why Expedia was replaced.
Ronnie Gurion, president of Orbitz Worldwide Distribution, characterized the dynamics of the deal as involving “a highly competitive bid process…”
And, Matthias Mahr, Eurostar’s head of e-Commerce and Customer management, stated:
The Orbitz Worldwide solution is unique in its ability to combine comprehensive contents from tens of thousands of hotel partners with a technology platform that gives Eurostar unmatched functionality and customization. As demand for end-to-end, high-speed rail accelerates across Europe, this partnership allows us to offer customers one-stop shopping on Eurostar.com for the best deals on complementary travel products and services.
Eurostar spokeswoman Lucy Drake added: “Expedia provided the same service for us for several years, but we decided to review our partners and suppliers last year and after a procurement process Orbitz was appointed as their replacement.”
The Orbitz private label solution uses XML and enables Eurostar customers to book hotels standalone or part of a vacation package. Much of the technology and ancillary merchandising capabilities in the Orbitz solution comes through a technology and marketing partnership with iSeatz.
In an ironic twist, the hotel displays from Orbitz on Eurostar.com will continue to display user reviews from TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia.
“That’s the beauty of our private label solution,” says Orbitz Worldwide spokesman Brian Hoyt. “We can customize a solution that has that parameter in place.”
For Orbitz, the deal increases its foothold a bit in the hotel business in Europe, where it has lagged.
And, Eurostar hopes to increase ancillary revenue across Europe through the agreement.