VibeAgent: The ultimate web 2.0 hotel site?

VibeAgent Home Page

Recently VibeAgent launched its beta testing … finally…it was supposed to launch half April: As my DW says every day: “I hate those computers, there is always something!”

Eons ago, actually in March 2007, Adam Healy, co founder of VibeAgent, very kindly noted my T-List and L-List page in a post Most Comprehensive List of Travel Blogs Ever of the VibeAgent Blog that he apparently maintains to warm up the travel community for VibeAgent. Oops and now I noticed I didn’t add VibeAgent Blog to the T-List, although technically he didn’t add any content there. Ha ha, in the VibeAgent terms he acted there as a wallflower. Omission repaired in the meantime.

Adam promised me an invite to VibeAgent once the Beta would be launched. I got a bit sad when the invite didn’t arrive, while I saw Guillaume posting something about VibeAgent Hotel Blogs by Guillaume Thevenot a month ago and Les Explorers two weeks ago.

A couple of days ago the invite landed in my mailbox. Hurray

I rummaged around in the site a bit.

Presently Jens Traenhart has probably the most extensive post about VibeAgent. It is worthwhile reading!

What is VibeAgent About?

It is meant to be a community that shares hotel reviews on the one hand and combines that with best price searching on the other hand.

The members are called Agents. They write the reviews. They are unpaid.

VibeAgent has teamed up with an impressive list of travel and hotel portals at the back end, like Price Line, and many others.

If you want to write a review about a hotel somewhere, VibeAgent comes with an impressive list of hotels in the area you chose. All automatically and truely web2.0 alike. At this stage 83.000 hotels are accessible.

There will be no advertising on the site. This is a big advantage as for instance on TripAdvisor a lot of bandwidth is taken by all the ads.

On the other hand it will act as a meta search engine for all the providers of accommodation. A sort of portal to the portals.

It claims that if you are searching for a hotel they have the best available price for you. However in this beta phase you get only the result. There is no short list as I have seen on other price comparison sites.

A big advantage above other sites that generate user reviews, is that if you participate you can communicate with the fellow reviewers. Hopefully that sifts out the biased reviews.

In the meantime the number of invitees is growing exponentially to a couple of hundreds. I am curious to see if they can meet up the requested bandwidth ultimately.

How will VibeAgent cover its costs? It will receive a percentage from the bookings made.

Well we will see and I will keep you posted.

By the way, it was Esme’s today’s post, actually more of a rant, on Pajama Entrepreneur who triggered this post.

11 thoughts on “VibeAgent: The ultimate web 2.0 hotel site?”

  1. Thank you for writing about this site. It looks like it will be a great addition to the online hotel world.

    I am skeptical about how they will have no ads, while at the same time promising the lowest prices. Any website that uses ads in lieu of a percentage of booking fees will always be able to offer a lower price… essentially passing on the savings to the consumer. Seems like simple economics to me.

  2. Marc,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I have sent you an invite for VibeAgent, so you can see for yourself.

    Actually I believe the issue you raise is more complicated or depending from which angle you look much more simple:

    • The accommodation providers ultimately pay commission to the portals and or pay for the ads.
    • The portals pay for each dollar commission they receive between 50 to 80 cents for adwords/advertising so the search engines can find the portals.
    • So ultimately I believe the ads come from the same source: the billfolds of the consumers.
  3. Thank you for the invite. It’s a great looking site. It was running slow for me and there are simply too many features to get used to when I just want to get hotel information. Tripadvisor is a good example of how to be efficient at this end. It looks very professional and the potential is there, but I say all this with the understanding it is still under development.

    As for your comments about it being more complicated, I don’t really get your point. The ‘savings’ that vibeagent or any hotel reseller would pass on to their customers needs to end up hitting someone’s wallet. If vibeagent used ads on their site, then they could forego their booking fee and pass the cheaper rates they are offered to their end user.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that ad revenue is an external source of income that doesn’t get incorporated into the internal pricing structure of a hotel sale. As a result, there are savings that can be created where there once weren’t any.

  4. And what I am trying to say is that the ads would in my view not come from outside the travel circuit, as there would be no sense to have ads that were not connected with the site.
    Ultimately the money for the ads comes from the consumers via the ad budgets of the accommodation- or travel providers and/or from the ad budgets of the portals which even are an extra layer of costs because they have their own infrastructure and profitability requirements.

  5. VibeAgent is able to provide the best possible hotel rates to our members because we are a meta-search site, and thus display all the available prices for a given hotel room offered either directly by the hotel or by an OTA such as Priceline, Venere, or Reserve Travel, all in one place.

    This allows our members to identify the lowest price available for that hotel room in the market at a given time. It’s not like you could pay less for that room if you had used mental telepathy and simply known where to find it – you’d still pay the same price. It’s just that since you arrived at that price with our help, the OTA or hotel is willing to give us a modest commission.

    If we decided to litter our site with advertisements and make it look more like the Vegas strip, it wouldn’t affect the hotel room rates we display one bit. That’s because we don’t set the room rates. The hotels do.

    Travelgoop, your assumption that if we had advertisements on our site, we’d be able to offer lower hotel rates, is just not true. The way we save people money is by helping them find the perfect hotel, and then enabling them to compare all the available rates in the market for that hotel all in one place.

    Oh, and we also save you money because you don’t have to waste your valuable time navigating around annoying advertisements. ­čÖé

  6. Ahhh. I see. It was wrong for me to assume that you were selling the hotel rooms. The way that it was phrased sounded like vibeagent had direct access to the bookings and was offering the lowest price (I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I would guess through Sabre or a similar company). Since you are simply an affiliate site, then you are not setting prices and the ad revenue makes no difference. I am in no way advocating ads. I think they clutter up sites, but it is hard to avoid on the internet these days especially with sites trying to stay free.

    I’m looking forward to the final release. It seems like a very thorough application and its addition to the web can only help the us all. My one piece of advice would be to try to err on the side of keeping things simple. After all, I would think most people just want a low price for a hotel and some feedback as to whether the site is good or not. Creating communities and additional features have the potential to distance the consumer from the simple task of just finding a hotel.

  7. Travelgoop,

    I think that is very good advice. We’re focused on providing our members with a clean, simple, elegant user interface and making it as easy as possible to a) quickly find the information a person is looking for and b) communicate with other members. It will be important for us not to get carried away with all this social networking functionality – we need to ensure that the features we provide further the mission of helping people find the perfect hotel at the perfect price.

    Regarding our meta search partners, we’re partnering with both e-commerce sites like Priceline and Reserve Travel, as well as directly with hotels (InterContinental Hotel Group, the third-largest group in the world, is our founding partner, and we are adding both larger chains and the small boutique hotels going forward).

    I sincerely hope you’ll become a founding member of our community and keep that feedback coming – we make all our development decisions based on what the community suggests!

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