Agency group Helloworld has decided to switch web platforms and strategy after declaring its web partnership with Orbitz has been an expensive flop that is still losing money.

CEO Andrew Burnes said the Orbitz alliance has ended and that Helloworld.com.au will switch to a new platform on 31 August.

“The financial investment by Helloworld Limited in (the website’s) development is over $18 million to date,” said Mr Burnes.

“Between the ongoing losses of the .com operation and the channel conflict with the online site carrying the same brand as our branded and associate members, we have decided to transition the site to a more agent-aligned portal.

“Helloworld.com.au will continue to provide full transactional functionality for air, land, car hire and other travel products and services, however, from September the site will match the available microsites for our individual agencies and the commissions from bookings made on the site will be allocated to agencies in the same way as if a customer walked in the door, called, or sent an email booking” said Mr Burnes.

“This operation has been costing about $6m a year over the last two years plus capital expenditure and these losses will now come to an end as a result of the decision to transition to a new site and end the current Agreement” Mr Burnes added.

The current deal with Helloworld’s B2B Ready Rooms site will also come to an end on 31 August and from that date will be powered by the Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN).

“Our Ready Rooms trade portal has been going very well,” he said.

“Up until now, content has come from Orbitz and from our internal wholesale businesses however we are in the process of replacing the Orbitz content with Expedia content and bolstering our internal content by adding AOT’s significant content in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

“The amount of available rooms on the Ready Rooms site will more than double once these two connections are complete.”

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