About the Company
The best, or most used function of Expedia or any travel site, is the search function where you plug in a few details about the trip you are planning, then get fast results and options for the lowest price. Choose your desired departure date, the city and airport, your destination and your return date and search for a flight. You can also do a combined search for hotels, and car rental. Hit the search button and Expedia goes to work. Entering a search for a flight from Chicago to Manilla generated dozens or possible flights. That's a lot of information to take in, but if you use the filter options you can sort the results by airline, departure time, number of stops and price.
Once you click on a particular flight, you'll then be prompted to select a return flight. Once you've decided that you'd like to book that particular flight you will be prompted to "continue booking."
Expedia offers what they call "Stress Free Flight Protection" for an additional charge, in this case $63.96 on the Chicago to Manilla round-trip flight. This plan offers 100% reimbursement on the cost of the flight and protection on lost bags, medical expenses and travel accidents while you are on your trip. Accept or decline the offer and move on to pay for your ticket. You will receive an itinerary by e-mail and you are also encouraged to print the itinerary and receipt for your records. You can also create an Expedia acount to save your itineraries.
Other sections of the Expedia website include a Scratch Pad where you can save the searches you've conducted. There is also a section called Itineraries where you can view your purchased flights.
The most popular feature of the Expedia site is probably the Flight search. It's very easy to use. Simply select your departure city, intended destination and the dates you'd like to depart and return and Expedia will show you your options. You will also be offered the option of running your search on other travel search sites, like Orbitz, fly.com, and Travelocity or all sites. After entering a search for a flight to Manila from Chicago, the lowest price offered was $1,106.90, but by clicking on the additional search option a flight for $941.50 was offered, a significant saving for travelers on a budget.
You can search through the various Vacation Packages Expedia has on offer. The best deals on trips to Las Vegas or the Bahamas, Oahu or Miami will be listed along with travel dates and the price per person. Select your departure city from the drop down list to find your price.
The hotels section of the Expedia website allows you to search for hotels and rates in your favorite cities. You can use the search to browse around and get an idea of hotel prices for your next trip or you can use them to plan your current trip. Just select whether you are traveling within a two or three week period of time and then view that results to find the best price.
This section of the Expedia website allows you to search for the best deals on car rentals. You can search under three different tabs: Last Minute Deals, Brand Deals and Current Promotions. You can also conduct a specific search based on the following criteria:
- Airport of city
- Car type
- Rental company
- Additional equipment (ski rack, child seat, snow chains, etc.)
Expedia also has offers on cruises with last minute deals available for luxury or river cruises. You can search by the cruise line, destination month or length or cruise. Some of the top deals on offer included deals on cruises from the following companies:
Things to Do
Expedia generates thousands of events and attractions based on your search. From theater shows, concerts to theme parks and tours, you can view them all according to your search destination or you can see what different offers are available and plan your trip accordingly.
The Deals section of the site features current top deals on everything from flights and hotels to cars and things to do.
The Groupon Getaways section offers a chance to browse through even more deals. There are various vacation packages featured that show the price as well as the time left to purchase them. Click on a deal that interests you and view the details.
Expedia offers a rewards program that allows you to earn up to two points for every dollar you spend booking through them. If you are a heavy traveler you can eventually work your way up to Elite Plus status which has many additional perks including special offers and discounts at VIP Access Hotels. Perks can include the following:
- Priority Customer Care
- Hotel Price Guarantee
- Expedia Rewards Bonuses
- Dedicated Concierge Service
- Exclusive Travel Offers
You can download the Expedia travel app by having a link sent directly to your mobile phone. You'll receive exclusive offers only for app users. You can view your itineraries, book flights and hotel rooms, and earn Expedia reward points.
You can get support regarding questions and problems you may experience with your itinerary or booking process. You can e-mail Expedia using their on-line e-mail form and they will respond within 48 hours. You can also call them 24 hours a day at one of two numbers listed on their website. You can also check out their Customer Support page to view popular answers to frequently asked questions.
Expedia received a pretty low rating from the website Trustpilot.com. Customers had a list of complaints about not being able to receive refunds as well as lost reservations and bookings.
Chicago Travel Guide:
About the Company
Priceline started out as Name Your Own Price, a website where the customer could list the price they wanted to pay for certain travel and vacation packages. While the customer could pick certain things like location and price, the name of the provider would not be disclosed until after the purchase with no cancellations allowed. For good reason, many customers were not too pleased with their packages but were locked in. It is likely the success of competitors like Expedia and Orbitz that has brought Priceline around to a more typical travel site.
What makes Priceline different from Orbitz and Expedia, at least in terms of their websites, is their celebrity spokespeople. Actors William Shatner and Kelly Cuoco are featured prominently on the site. In addition to searches, you can use the site to create an account profile, check your flight status and create itineraries. The site also features hotel and city guides in addition to the search options for flights, cars and hotels.
The Car Rental section of the website still has the name your own price theme where you bid on a rental company. You choose the length of time you need the rental car, where you want to pick it up and drop it off and then you "Name Your Own Price". If you bid too low or high, you will be prompted to revise your bid within certain parameters, so basically doing a simple search for a rental car on another site would yield the same results.
The Priceline works like other travel sites with the added novelty of The Priceline Negotiator (played by William Shatner) who "negotiates" your price with a list of possibilities much like other travel sites. There are no negotiations really, you simply enter your search criteria and an algorithm does the negotiating and provides you with a list of options to choose from
The search for Vacation Packages is pretty standard as well. A vacation package search will let you search for a flight, a flight and hotel or a flight, hotel and car. You simply fill out the form with your destination and travel dates and conduct your search and Shatner starts his "negotiating". You can organize your search results by lowest price and the hotel's location.
You can search for a number of various cruise destinations. You chose from a list of destinations and enter the duration of the cruise you'd like to take and the month you'd like to take it. You're offered a lit of options to chose from.
The Hotel Guides section provides a list of cheap hotels that you can search by country and then city. The entries list the price per night as well as any freebies you might expect. There are also customer reviews of the hotels so you can see what other guests experienced during their stay, good or bad.
Priceline offers a free mobile application which you can download from their website. They feature apps for the following devices:
The Help Section of the website has a self-service section where you can go to find the answers to frequently asked questions and send them an e-mail through the site's online form. A phone number is also provided should you need to talk to a real person, although a common complaint seems to be the difficulty of negotiating your way past a recorded message.
According to the website Consumeraffairs.com, Priceline has a pretty lousy reputation. Out of 512 ratings only 1% were fully satisfied with 86% handing Priceline the lowest rating for satisfaction. Complaints range from not actually having cars reserved when they arrived at their locations to an inability to reach a real person at the company.
About the Company
Orbitz Worldwide was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Chicago, IL. Orbitz was started through a partnership of major airline companies in response to the growing popularity of travel sites.
The Orbitz site is similar to Expedia and the search parameters are essentially the same as well. You can search for hotels, flights, rental cars and cruises. You can also search under their Go, Stay Play section to find hotels and attractions by city and state.
Orbitz lets you conduct searches for hotels by themselves or conduct a search that includes flights, hotels and rental cars. There are various promotional offers that can save you money. When searching for hotels, keep an eye out for hotels labeled "Promo Code Eligible"
The search options for flights are similar to most other travel sites. You can search for flight only or conduct a combined search with hotels and rental cars as well. You can also look for cheap flights based on the destination. Orbitz offers discounted airfare for flights to top U.S. destinations:
As well as top international destinations:
Similar to Expedia and Priceline, Orbitz also lets you conduct a search for rental cars either individually or combined with hotels and flights. Orbitz has rental options from Hertz, Dollar Car and Thrifty.
Cruises are on offer as well and are searched for the same as cars or hotels. Chose your destination and departure month and conduct your search. You can also enter your zip code to see if there are any special offers available.
The Deals section of the Orbitz website is the place to search for special offers on cars, hotels flights and cruises with savings that run from 15% off up to 50% off.
The Activities area of the site has different suggestions for activities to do on your trip. You can even plan your trip around such activities like a show like Blue Man Group in Las Vegas or a trip to Disney World.
Orbitz now has its own rewards program so you ca earn "instant vacation gratification." When you enroll in the Orbitz Rewards you'll be eligible to earn up to 5% on hotel bookings and 1% on flights. You can redeem these points instantly.
Orbitz also has a mobile application which you can download for free from their website. The can download a verison for the following devices:
Orbitz has a Customer Support page where you can find answers to frequently asked questions. They also list several numbers to contact them directly in the U.S. and Canada and for Spanish speakers.
Orbitz has received some negative feedback for sub par customer service but to their credit they work hard to investigate and rectify these claims. For example, a customer who had a complaint about Orbitz posted to TripAdvisor.com received a reply from a Orbitz customer service rep who wanted to investigate the customer's bad experience.
About Orbitz Rewards:
Expedia continues to be the leader in the travel site industry. Partnering with Groupon to offer even better package deals, and allowing for the most exhaustive search for flights, is what keeps Expedia at the forefront. Orbitz is newer to the game and was founded by airline carriers to compete with sites like Expedia. Expedia and Orbitz offer such comparable benefits, prices, features and functions that it's hard to determine which one is better than the other until you've had a bad experience with one of them. Priceline, despite enlisting the help of celebrity spokesperson William Shatner, and having funny commercials, seems to perform the worst in customer service. Their "name your own price" business model was not faring well against other travel sites and it appears as though they are now trying to model themselves after Expedia and Orbitz.