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Online Travel Wars Heat Up

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Months before summer…the online travel wars heat up. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The summer vacation season isn't far off…and the number of consumers who use online travel services to research their plans and book flights and hotels continues to grow. SideStep is a site…hoping to win customers as a different kind of service…

"We're a travel search engine and we search dozens of Web sites to help you track down really good flight, hotel and rental car deals. We also make it really easy for you to compare, side by side, with sites like Expedia."

SideStep marketing VP Phil Carpenter. While the company has introduced a new Web based hotel search offering, to make the best use of SideStep requires the downloading of a small application. It pops up even when you are using services like Expedia or Travelocity. Those are two of the companies that don't provide data directly to SideStep. The service does find fares however from some discount airlines and from Orbitz…

"We take a very different approach. Again, we're a search engine rather than an online agency. So we search dozens of different Web sites to find good travel bargains. And then when you've found what you're looking for, we actually take you through to the sites of our travel partners. So you actually buy from them and not from SideStep. We focused on the very first part of the travel equation which is the search portion."

A quick online comparison we did using SideStep did save some money over some better known travel sites. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.