By Martin Kelly, Editor, Travel Trends

AFTER all the hype, it’s now obvious the Webjet-eBay hotel distribution deal is nothing more than garden-variety affiliate marketing. It’s a long way from turning hotel distribution “on its head” – the description used by Webjet MD David Clarke earlier this year.

For a start, none of the properties marketed through Webjet’s hotel brand, lotsofhotels.com.au (LOH), actually appear in the accommodation or hotels auction sections of eBay, as you would expect. (eBay explains that  "accommodation search requires a very different user experience from that of the traditional product categories…")

Instead, LOH effectively “owns” eBay’s main travel category page. Click through and you’ll find the LOH booking engine, an LOH logo, a hotel deals signup box and a big fat LOH advertisement. They all lead back to the LOH website where eBay branding is prominently featured (‘from eBay.com.au’).

And that’s about it – Affiliate Marketing 101. Although neither company has revealed the financials, logic suggests it’s probably a mix of Pay Per Click and Revenue Split for clicks and bookings originating from eBay, which claims five million members.

“It is the largest single step that Webjet could make in terms of extending its market footprint into the sale of hotels,” said David Clarke in June. “Guidance in terms of the likely profit contribution to Webjet’s bottom line will be made at the time of our annual filing August 2008."

Unfortunately that guidance still hasn’t eventuated, so interested bystanders will have to wait just a little bit longer to evaluate the success or otherwise of this venture.

Meanwhile, travel search engine Wego.com has just embarked on a similar relationship with eBay in Singapore and Malaysia.

Travel Trends: December 4, 2008

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