It's hard to believe that Travel Ticker was merely a victim of Hotwire's international expansion plans. If the opaque travel market, where Hotwire plays, is getting very crowded, the deals newsletter space is getting even more so.
Hotwire boasted last year that its Travel Ticker newsletter had 11 million subscribers and the Travel Ticker website attracted 3 million monthly unique visitors, but it plans on shutting down both operations October 1, Skift has learned.
With the proliferation of other deals newsletters such as those from Travelzoo and Shermans Travel, and voucher and flash sales operations from the likes of Groupon, LivingSocial, Jetsetter and SniqueAway, perhaps Travel Ticker became the victim of deal fatigue or saturation.
Europe and Asia-Pacific expansion was sexier
Operated by the Hotwire Group, along with Hotwire and CarRentals.com, Travel Ticker had about two dozen employees last year.
Some have already been absorbed elsewhere into parent company Expedia Inc. while others are looking for work.
Although the operation, including its mobile apps, will be closing October 1, “there’s already been some bits and actions taking place,” a Hotwire spokesperson says.
There is no plan to sell any of Travel Ticker’s assets, the spokesperson adds.
The spokesperson doesn’t see the closure of the operation, which launched its newsletter about six years ago, as tied to an over-saturated deals market, but says Hotwire seeks to refocus on its core business, opaque travel deals, and international expansion.
“The decision isn’t about the deal space as much as it is about the Hotwire Group’s decision to support the expansion of Hotwire and CarRentals.com,” the Hotwire spokesperson says. “Over the past several years, the Hotwire business has grown to now include travel offerings in Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Europe.
“By rolling Travel Ticker’s resources into Hotwire, they’ll able to expand our offering in these regions and continue to grow into others. It is a positive step toward providing more support for a fast-growing brand, and ultimately, better deals and more options for travelers, which is Hotwire’s mission as a company.”
Hotwire now operates eight country sites, including the U.S./Canada, the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand, and it is believed this expansion effort overtook a focus on Travel Ticker, which may have been facing proverbially strong headwinds.
One constant challenge for Travel Ticker was that there was a lot of overlap between the Hotwire and Travel Ticker subscriber bases. Travel Ticker’s conversion rates for more upscale hotel deals or vacation packages may have been hampered by the very budget-conscious subscriber base.
The upcoming closure of Travel Ticker will likely benefit Travelzoo, with some 25 million subscribers to its deals newsletters, although even Travelzoo has shifted some resources away from its signature newsletters and toward the voucher business.