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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Unformatted Document Text:  standardization of hotels by these sites makes travelers comfortable in knowing what to expect from their lodging. A major attraction of travel Web sites is their promise of finding the best price for travel to a particular destination. Priceline.com became very successful by making a game out of the search for bargains. Visitors name a price that they wish to pay for an air flight, hotel or rental car, and if Priceline can find a company to accept their offer, they win. The catch is their credit card is automatically charged if their offer is accepted, and they cannot know the company they will be purchasing from in advance. Hotwire.com provides a similar ’blind purchase’ service: except instead of travelers making a bid in advance, Hotwire finds the lowest rates among its company partners and makes them an offer. What Priceline and Hotwire mean for the traveler is the same: details of the trip become a mystery; only the destination is known. Travelers will fly at an unknown time, on an airline to be determined and stay at an undisclosed hotel. At one level there is the excitement of a mystery, but in actuality it proves the safety of standardization. 12 The list of special offers provided on travel sites is probably the feature that most blurs the difference between locations. One strength of the Internet is its ability to provide last minute deals based on availability. Airlines can issue an itinerary and electronic ticket at the moment of purchase, which has allowed them to offer special weekly ’Internet only’ offers. Similar deals can be found on hotel sites and general travel sites. 13 Here cities are most clearly reduced to the hotel and airline bargains connected to them. These bargains are ideal for travelers who are flexible about when they want to leave or, significantly, where they want to visit. A survey found that one out of five travelers does not know where they plan to visit before they go online, and they use the Web to choose their destination (Travel Weekly, 2002). Thus, the bargains the Web provides may steer travelers to a

Authors: Fotsch, Paul.
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standardization of hotels by these sites makes travelers comfortable in knowing what to expect
from their lodging.
A major attraction of travel Web sites is their promise of finding the best price for travel
to a particular destination. Priceline.com became very successful by making a game out of the
search for bargains. Visitors name a price that they wish to pay for an air flight, hotel or rental
car, and if Priceline can find a company to accept their offer, they win. The catch is their credit
card is automatically charged if their offer is accepted, and they cannot know the company they
will be purchasing from in advance. Hotwire.com provides a similar ’blind purchase’ service:
except instead of travelers making a bid in advance, Hotwire finds the lowest rates among its
company partners and makes them an offer. What Priceline and Hotwire mean for the traveler is
the same: details of the trip become a mystery; only the destination is known. Travelers will fly
at an unknown time, on an airline to be determined and stay at an undisclosed hotel. At one level
there is the excitement of a mystery, but in actuality it proves the safety of standardization.
12
The list of special offers provided on travel sites is probably the feature that most blurs
the difference between locations. One strength of the Internet is its ability to provide last minute
deals based on availability. Airlines can issue an itinerary and electronic ticket at the moment of
purchase, which has allowed them to offer special weekly ’Internet only’ offers. Similar deals
can be found on hotel sites and general travel sites.
13
Here cities are most clearly reduced to the
hotel and airline bargains connected to them.
These bargains are ideal for travelers who are flexible about when they want to leave or,
significantly, where they want to visit. A survey found that one out of five travelers does not
know where they plan to visit before they go online, and they use the Web to choose their
destination (Travel Weekly, 2002). Thus, the bargains the Web provides may steer travelers to a


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