Slam-Dunking the Travel Market

Travel site for some time has been focused on offering customers more than just hotels and airline tickets, and thanks to its relationship with Ticketmaster, the company is increasingly able to take a slam-dunk marketing approach.

Just today, for example, Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia rolled out an offering that lets customers buy tickets to NBA and NHL games along with their business flights, hotel reservations or even its vacation packages

Meanwhile, rival travel operation renewed its strategic alliance with MasterCard International in a deal that also is aimed at providing one-stop online travel shopping.

Expedia began more tightly integrating with its sister company Ticketmaster , last May when it launched a “Build Your Own Trip feature that lets customers add services and activities at their destinations. Both companies are controlled by Barry Diller’s USA Interactive , which just this week reported a fourth quarter profit ($148.1 million, or 30 cents a share) based largely on the strength of its online travel businesses.

The “whole trip” strategy is being credited by company execs for Expedia’s recent bottom line success – reporting quadrupled fourth quarter net income of $21 million, or 33 cents a share.

Expedia customers, after selecting a flight, hotel, or vacation package, have the option of purchasing tickets to any NBA or NHL games scheduled during their stay. The new offering complements other destination services and activities available on Expedia, including airport shuttles and tickets to theme parks, tours and other attractions.

More such sports-oriented offerings can be expected down the road, Expedia said.

After all, baseball’s Spring Training is right around the corner.

Meanwhile, rival travel operation, operated by Sabre Holdings, , said that as part of a multi-year agreement, Travelocity and MasterCard have teamed up “to market destinations, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, vacation packages, car rental specials and more.”

And the agreement has been broadened to include, Travelocity’s Canadian Web site, and its last-minute travel subsidiary, Site59. Among the promotions are cash-back offers on cruises and ski trip packages. Travelocity also said the two companies would continue to offer additional special deals for those consumers who sign up for the Travelocity MasterCard card.

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