• Online intermediaries not recession winners

During the last hotel recession at the start of this decade the big winners were the online intermediaries, mostly at the expense of hoteliers.

The latest results from the biggest of the online agents, Expedia, indicate that they will not fare so well this time around.

The headline grabber at Expedia was a $3bn goodwill write-down that saw it make a final quarter loss of $2.76bn. But the real concern for the firm must be its weaker than expected bookings which came in at just above $4bn, below expectations.

There was an 11% drop in gross bookings, with North America suffering a 13% fall and Europe an 11% decline.

Before hoteliers become too jubilant, however, it is worth noting that Expedia rival, Priceline, reported better than expected results.

Priceline said its deep discounts were a key reason for its success. Expedia, on the other hand, has over the past few years moved into a more supplier friendly style of operation and perhaps this has cost it market share in the downturn.

Priceline's name-your-own-price approach has certainly appealed to cost-conscious travellers but it has also added sales in merchant and agency as well.

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