These are online travel agencies aimed at British travellers.
The dividing line between a travel agency that has a website and an online travel agency can be a little fuzzy. This list is focused on the latter - non-specialised travel websites that have a distinct online brand identity and take bookings online.
See also specialist/niche travel websites, Online Accommodation-only Agencies and price-comparison websites.
|Beat the Brochure||Holiday bargains specialist, with a wide selection of low priced holiday packages and all-inclusives.|
|Directline Holidays||Directline Holidays was one of the first online travel agents and has now almost two decades of experience in offering worldwide holidays and travel related products. They are independent and offer their own customisable packages, as well as packaged holidays from other mainstream tour operators. Oh, and they have a blog with short articles about their destinations written by several of my expert colleagues from the BGTW.|
|ebookers.com||Who hasn't heard of eBookers? Started out as the flight-orientated online service of the fares consolidator, Flightbookers, but is now a true 'travel portal' where you can search for everything from country cottages to cruises, train tickets to transfers.|
|eDreams||Spanish travel portal selling flights, car hire, hotels and self-catering accommodation. It was originally launched in March 99 (and based in the USA) when they specialised in unusual hard-to-find holidays with practical help from 400 'DreamGuides' - online travel experts who would answer specific queries about where to go and what to do by email.|
|Expedia||The first major eAgency, launched by Microsoft in the US in the early 90's, then in the UK & Europe a couple of years later (Nov 98). It is amazingly comprehensive & versatile, and is the largest seller of travel online in the world.|
|Iglu||Iglu started life as a specialist ski web site selling ski accommodation, but has now diversified into several niche site: igluSki.com, igluVillas.com, igluTropical.com & igluCities.com, all accessible from the main iglu.com site. There used to be an igluActive.com too, selling activity breaks, but that seems to have disappeared.|
|JustTheTicket||Discount airfares, Car Hire, Hotels, Eurotunnel, Eurostar, Fly-Drive, city breaks and late holiday deals. Search online, then book on the phone.|
|Key2Holidays||Online operator specialising in luxury holidays to Dubai, Italy, America, Africa and the Far East, and tailor made trips all over the world.|
|LastMinute.com||Famous home of late-availability holidays. If you are looking for excellent bargains and really can drop everything and go at a moment's notice, this is the place to look. Over the years Lastminute has gobbled up the major competition so it operates all the Online Travel Corporation (OTC) brands, Travelocity (originally Sabre on the www), and Holiday Autos.|
|LateDeals.co.uk||Part of Europe's largest travel group TUI, Latedeals.co.uk specialises in last minute package holidays.|
|Netflights.com||Popular flights and hotel aggregator. It was originally launched as the Airline Network PLC in the early nineties, but the name was changed in 2008 when its parent company was aquired by the Thomas Cook Group. Netflights offer deals on flights, hotels, holidays and car hire to thousands of global destinations. Holidays purchased throught it are ABTA protected.|
|Opodo|| This is the online travel company created by nine European airlines - Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, KLM and Lufthansa. The site offers not just cheap airfares but also hotels car hire and package holidays from operators such as Kuoni.
If you are wondering about the name; they needed something that worked in up to nine different languages and for nine different cultures. It is also a visual palindrome. Turn it upside down and it looks the same. (I was at the launch in 2002 when they explained it! A.)
|PackYourBags.com||Online agency since 2001, ABTA & ATOL bonded, selling budget holidays in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas, India & the Indian Ocean from the major tour operators including Thomas Cook, First Choice, Airtours, Sunset and Cosmos.|
|Priceline.co.uk||Hotels, flights car rental, the usual stuff...but, Priceline's business model is based on its Name Your Own Price system which allows you nominate the price you would like to pay for a hotel, flight or car rental and it then searches its database of partner companies looking for unsold seats, rooms or cars that they are willing to sell at that price. While that system still applies to almost 30,000 hotel rooms, we can't see much evidence of it being applied to flights and cars, which seem to be sourced the traditional way. They also have a review system called PillowTalk – a ‘word cloud’ that displays words of different sizes according to how many times they have been mentioned by customer reviews. These words are taken from over 300,000 reviews submitted by genuine guests who have booked and stayed at a hotel through Priceline.|
|Telme Global Traveller||A well-constructed site, simple to use, offering flights, hotels & car hire, biased towards mid to longhaul flights and the business traveller market.|
|ThisIsTravel||Travel portal launched at the start of 2002 by the Mail, Mail on Sunday, Evening Standard, and Metro group of newspapers. Most of the content (such as Frank Barrett's advice column) seems to be culled from their existing travel pages online. A flights/insurance/hotels/car-hire booking engine turns the site into a 'portal'.|
|Trainbreaks.com||City breaks via Eurostar. Part of Delpech Travel, so a sister brand to seafranceholidays.com, ferrydiscounts.com and shortbreakmarket.co.uk.|
|TravelPlanners||A division of USAirtours group, selling flights, accommodation, car hire, airport parking, short breaks and holidays.|
- Online agencies don't take all bookings online. Many use a mainstream computer reservations system for booking & payment on flights and hotels, but rely on email forms and/or call centres to handle more complex travel components.
- One thing to look for: all online flight booking systems can easily sell 'city pair' flights (return tickets from city A to city B), the thing that technologically sorts the men from the boys is their ability to handle multi-leg itineraries.
- The online travel sector has gone through a significant period of consolidation in recent years with Lastminute.com emerging as the dominant parent brand.