opaque airline tickets, hotels, rental cars. You’ll know the itinerary of your trip or the amenities of your hotel before you book at hotwire.com — the brand is revealed after purchase. You can also purchase retail cruises and vacation packages, as well as the new option to purchase retail air.
Hotwire.com was a website started because of the success of another one. The folks behind Hotwire, especially the former CEO Karl Peterson, were able to convince the Texas Pacific Group (read that as folks with the big money) that they could build a site similar to priceline, but smaller.
Since priceline was worth about 20 Billion at that point, you can see why this was a good idea at the time. It has been said that good artists create, and great artists steal. If that’s the case, the mimicry at work with Hotwire and priceline might well prove it.
The mousetrap that priceline built was okay, but as seen by their recent move into retail product, it had some problems with consumer marketing. Priceline had proven that some customers would be flexible to save money. They might even trust priceline to pick a “good” airline for them. But some customers didn’t want to find out what they’d purchased after the fact — they wanted to see their itinerary first. And that’s how Hotwire was built.
The service, code named purple demon, launched to the public in 2000. Airline tickets were the first to go up, then rental cars, and lastly hotel rooms. Hotwire was backed by the same airlines that stood behind priceline. Initially, Delta held out, but they also came in at the end. In 2001 Hotwire was able to strike a deal with Orbitz where they became the opaque travel option on the Orbitz site. This deal was a gold mine in terms of customer acquisition for the company, and it really fueled their growth.
And the growth was recognized. In September of 2002 Interactive Corp (owner of Expedia and Hotels.com) entered into an agreement to buy Hotwire. Certainly the founders of the company were excited, but consumers should be happy too. When Hotwire.com was purchased, it ensured that folks would still be able to use the service.
So Hotwire’s mission to offer unbeatable low prices on airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, vacation packages and cruises is still in working order. And you can use Hotwire to get low priced travel options that can’t be found anywhere else. So how do you use Hotwire? Hotwire works with trusted travel partners like Delta, Cendant hotels and rental car companies like Hertz to ensure that they can sell you good travel product at below retail levels.
The hotel product is excellent to use. In comparing Hotwire vs. priceline.com, you can easily predict the hotel you’ll end up in. Hotwire breaks cities into many more, smaller zones. Smaller zones can be researched by the smart consumer. In addition, the hotwire.com lists the amenities of each hotel in their system… if you combine the lists of amenities and the zones, you should be able understand where you’ll be staying. And as they say, you’ll never ever pay retail again!
And Hotwire.com recently unveiled retail airline tickets, so you can now check the opaque option on the same page as retail. Guess what? Consumers win again!