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Coming and Going

Kayak.com Launches TravelPost.com, Hotel Prices Dropping

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Sunday, March 29, 2009; Page F02

UPRIGHT AND LOCKED

Everyone's a Critic

Kayak.com is attempting to cut into TripAdvisor's audience with the recent relaunch of its TravelPost.com site.

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The site offers reviews, rates, descriptions, photos and maps from travelers and professionals for more than 140,000 hotels around the globe. The information is gathered from more than 200 travel Web sites, encompassing online travel agencies, hotel brand sites and hotel review sites. TravelPost offers 1.4 million hotel reviews, including more than 840,000 posted on the site by travelers.

"We look at this site as primarily a hotel information site," said Kellie Pelletier, vice president of communications for Kayak and TravelPost. "We'll give you rates, but that's secondary."

The site differentiates itself by allowing users to filter hotel reviews based on where the review was first posted, and on the reviewer's age, sex, budget and whether they were traveling for business or pleasure.

TravelPost's relaunch is the latest in a rash of recent moves by major travel Web sites into one another's territories. TripAdvisor, which is owned by Expedia and has more than 20 million traveler reviews, is the behemoth of hotel review sites, but last month it launched a new airfare search engine that competes with Kayak. Travelzoo, which concentrates on travel deals, has also joined the fray, last month launching Fly.com, which also searches multiple sites for airfares.

DEPT. OF COMMERCE

Cheap(er) Sleeps

According to Hotels.com's Hotel Price Index (HPI) study, published March 23, the average hotel room price worldwide dropped 12 percent between late 2007 and late 2008. The study (available at http://hotels.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=41) analyzed room costs around the world, comparing prices during the fourth quarter of 2007 (October through December) with the same time period in 2008.

By region, hotel prices in Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America decreased in general, but the drop was most dramatic in North America (down 12 percent) and Europe (down 10 percent). The study includes a graph of average prices from 2004 through 2008, showing that during the fourth quarter of 2008, the average hotel room's price is just slightly more than what it was in late 2004. September 2007 had the highest prices of that four-year span.

The HPI also ranked cities based on cost of rooms. Moscow; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Geneva; New York; and Rio de Janeiro were priciest. Meanwhile, Las Vegas; Manila; Mumbai; Queenstown, New Zealand; Cape Town, South Africa; and Reykjavik, Iceland, all saw prices dip 30 percent or more between 2007 and 2008.

In the United States, New York's hotel prices were highest, even though the city's prices dropped a whopping 22 percent (to $255 from $328). Washington came in seventh, with prices increasing 3 percent (from $179 to $184). In Europe, Geneva was priciest ($264), then Paris ($196), London ($192), Venice ($191) and Zurich ($186). London, Venice and Oslo all decreased by 20 percent or more.

The bottom line? Hotels worldwide are cheaper, on average, than they've been since 2004, making lodging -- especially in the United States and in Europe -- the best deal in years.

TRAVEL TICKER

After reading last week's story about tiger sanctuaries in India ("India From North to South," Travel, March 22), Debra Eliezer, director of the World Wildlife Fund's travel program, wanted to let readers know that the WWF regularly offers tours aimed at viewing tigers and other spectacular Indian wildlife. The WWF is credited with bringing the tiger back from the brink of extinction. For more details, visit, http://www.worldwildlife.org/travel.

BARGAIN OF THE WEEK

American Airlines has sale fares to Europe. Round-trip fare from Reagan National to Milan, for example, is $519, including $92 taxes; other airlines are matching. Travel must start by May 26 and be completed by June 25. Restrictions include a Saturday night minimum and 30-day maximum stay. Purchase by March 31 on http://www.aa.com, or pay $20 more by calling 800-433-7300.

Reporting: Carol Sottili, Christina Talcott

Help feed CoGo. Send travel news, road reports and juicy tattles to: cogo@washpost.com. By fax: 202-912-3609. By mail: CoGo, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.


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