Are online travel agencies virtual GDSs, and do they commoditize supply? Is booking direct with a "great big supplier" ("--we'll hook you up!") really the answer? Does the walled garden flourish when the wall comes down? Do hotels get a three - customers - for - the - price - of - two deal from all online travel agencies? The answers to these questions were, well, opaque, but clarity ruled the dialog at The PhoCusWright Executive Conference in Orlando, Fla., November 14-15.

The old view of an "online" and "offline" travel market was obstructed by the consensus view of one travel market with a very significant online channel. Online players talked of targeting their offerings to offline channel buyers, and venerable players from the pre-Internet world were unequivocal: in the words of one center stager, "by all means do not call me traditional." Is the market turning upside down? No, said attendees at the close of the event, the players are growing up.

Download Philip Wolf's opening remarks (PDF 73.6KB)