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Online travel agencies several years ago would talk about how they were committed to enhancing the travel experience, and that it would be foolhardy to be totally about price.

With the announcement today that Hotwire launched a new site, TripWatcher, so  consumers can monitor prospective trips for airfare price drops, the online travel agencies might as well abandon all pretense about paying homage to user experience.

OK, Expedia has its Find Yours ad campaign about the transformational attributes of travel, but mostly Expedia is about finding the lowest airfares and hotel rates.

In practical terms, online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity scuttled such promises about their advocacy of something more — the travel experience — some time ago.

Unlike Yapta, which monitors airfares for price drops after you book, TripWatcher enables users to input desired city pairs, and receive notifications when the airfare drops. Then TripWatcher will try to sell you the flight.

TripWatcher fits in with the mission of Hotwire, an Expedia subsidiary, since Hotwire is all about hotel and flight discounts.

It’s all part of a bottom-feeding trend, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with bottom-feeding because everyone loves — and in these times — often needs a deal.

Expedia-offspring TripAdvisor launched Tingo last year; it provides hotel refunds when the price drops after booking, but alternately also offers room upgrades at the original price.

In March, DealAngel applied data to hotel-pricing as ammunition for deal-hunters, predicting whether hotel rates in specific cities will rise or fall.

It’s all about the same thing — serving price-obsessed travelers who are ravenous for flight or hotel bargains.

Alerts, notifications, offers, rebates, refunds — all fodder for deal-seekers.

Tags: hotwire
Photo Credit: Hotwire's TripWatcher watches price drop after travelers select trips to monitor. Hotwire