As online travel agencies become increasingly popular, companies that operate such sites are vying to provide consumers with a wider variety of travel products and services.

Major Japanese e-tourism Web site firm Global Travel Online Inc., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corp., focuses exclusively on booking overseas holidays.

Visitors to the GTO site simply fill in an online form stating where they want to go, where they are traveling from, how many people are traveling, and what type of hotel they prefer. The site then lists travel options and combined prices that meet those requirements.

The site also can offer alternative hotel rooms and airplane seats, so travelers can customize their trip.

GTO lists about 2,200 hotels and it has negotiated direct contracts with a half of them, cutting out intermediaries and ensuring the best deal for its customers.

"Because we don't pay commissions to intermediaries in many of our travel plans we can often offer packages at a price that is about half the price of an ordinary tour offering the same itinerary," a GTO spokesman said.

Get the full story at the Daily Yomiuri Online