Expedia and Zuji waive online booking fees for customers in Australia, New Zealand

Sunday, September 6, 2009, 6:28 by Jose Philip

Expedia and Zuji Australia, internet-based travel agencies, have dropped booking fees on all flights for customers in Australia and New Zealand.In a press release, Expedia said it would initially let go booking fees for a period of 6 weeks. The agency said that it would do away with the booking fees permanently for its customers in Australia and New Zealand if one million people visited its website expedia.com.au by midnight on October 18, 2009.

As for Expedia’s customers in New Zealand, the website expedia.co.nz will remove booking fees on all flights booked through the site till midnight on October 18, 2009.

What is more, expedia.co.nz will make the waiver of booking fees a permanent feature provide 200,000 people visit expedia.co.nz until October 18, 2009.

According to the press release from Expedia, this will make expedia.co.nz the first online travel website to end flight booking fees in New Zealand on all flights – domestic, international as well as intra-regional (that is, services between overseas destinations).

Louise Crompton, marketing manager of Expedia, said in the press release that Expedia has already abolished booking fees on its websites for the United States and Canada and that “it was time Australians also enjoyed that benefit.”

Zuji Australia said that its customers will have to pay only the promoted cost of a flight without paying any extra booking fees for travel agency.

According to Peter Smith, general manager of Zuji Australia, the removal of booking fees is a “turning point for the internet-based travel agency industry and also a sign of confidence in the Australian economy.”

The practice of charging booking fees for online transactions, Smith added, is now “outdated,” especially in the present tough economic conditions.

At present, online travel agents charge $50 for booking flights, accommodation as well as ‘activities options’ to online users.

A recent research report by PhoCusWright, the company that specializes in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, had found that, of the US $25 billion that is expected to be spent on travel in 2009, 24% will be done online.

According to figures released by Zuji, with more consumers researching their travel online now, growth in the online travel sector is considerably overtaking   the traditional travel-booking sector.

The survey conducted by Zuji also found that 77% of all journeys booked in Australia are researched online.

Zuji Australia estimates that Australian travelers paid over A$22 by way of online booking fees in 2008, and that people booking travel through websites other than Zuji Australia are expected to pay in the range of A$9-A$50 per transaction as booking fees.