Orbitz focuses on business travel market

Online travel site Orbitz says it intends to have a business version of its travel-booking service up and running within the next...

Online travel site Orbitz says it intends to have a business version of its travel-booking service up and running within the next 60 days. Rival Expedia last week announced plans for a business-focused site of its own which it plans to launch by the end of the year.

The Orbitz site will allow business users to log on via their corporate e-mail account and will allow one person to book flights, cars and hotels for other people in the business, Rick Webber, vice-president for business services at Orbitz, said..

Corporate users can expect to see a site that looks and works the same as Orbitz's consumer site. The difference, Webber said, is that when the flights, car rental and hotel information is returned, it will show a company's discount rates along with all the other rates that regular Orbitz customers see. That way, a company can choose the lower rate and book flights accordingly.

Users will also be able to take advantage of company discounts, which they cannot do now without the help of a corporate travel agent, Webber said.

The service will cost $5 (£3.17) per transaction for self-service booking, and $15 (£9.50) per transaction for assisted booking. Webber said he expects companies to save at least $30 (£19.03) per transaction because they will not have to use corporate travel agents. He said travel agent fees generally start at about $40 per exchange.

Other features will include tracking and reporting tools. Webber said companies will receive monthly reports which will allow them to negotiate volume contracts to drive more savings.

In addition, individual users will be able to use the service to book personal flights, hotels and car rentals without appearing on corporate reports. Those transactions would be billed at the $5 and $15 rates.

Chicago, USA-based Orbitz, which was founded in 2000 by five major US airlines, currently tracks about 2 billion flight and fare options from more than 455 airlines.

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