The best thing to happen since airfare travel sites went online, is the comparison shopping sites which are doing an excellent job of creating a uniform airfare stock market. No longer is it normal for a site to increase the price for a popular flight, without risking the loss of hundreds of sales, because of airfare comparison shopping.
The comparison shopping for airfare prices puts everybody's prices right out there for everyone to see. And in most cases the name of the airline is associated with the price. So more than ever, creating a loyal group of clients is becoming more important to travel sites.
Travelers are receiving everything from loyalty points to discounts and rebates for remaining loyal to a particular online travel company. This procedure has worked very well for the cruise line industry which showers loyal customers with unbelievable discounts on select cruises.
For example, Princess Cruise Lines, provides membership to a "Captain's Circle" club, where you have to a sailed a certain number of times with the cruise company in order to qualify. Members receive perks such as a quarterly magazine, with special pricing to special check-in privileges when boarding ship.
Usually when we cruise, we depart from San Francisco. The line to board ship extends out pass the terminal onto the sidewalk and this is when you arrive early. Becoming a member of the elite group and getting to pass up everyone in the line and go straight to the front of the line, is a benefit which was too good for me to pass up. It took me several years, but we finally reached the number of cruises which allow us to pass up everyone in the line. I can't explain what a great benefit it is to walk pass everyone, a thousand plus people, all standing in a very long line, watching and wondering, "Where are they going?"
It's the little things which, makes a customer loyal, and the travel sites have been forced into playing the loyalty game. In the pass, pretty much all they had to do was publish the web site and wait, while travelers flocked to the site and booked their travel.
Yes, online comparison shopping, for airfares, has made travel sites re-think how they are going to approach the Internet client. Free enterprise is great. Now if we can just get a couple of these large airfare comparison sites to offer affiliate programs! Oh well, I guess we can't have everything.