Expedia has done more to promote theirs, I actually knew that I was an Expedia ElitePlus member. They’ve also offered up clear criteria on re-qualification ($10,000 in Expedia spend in a year or 12 hotel nights — clearly hotels are a profitable product ofr Expedia). And there are a few value-added benefits, however miniscule.
Orbitz on the other hand offers a dedicated customer service line and waiver of its own fees, just like Expedia. They offer free Hertz #1 Club Gold (easily obtainable elsewhere free) and occasional discounts such as this one which I imagine would be useable by anyone:
Save $50 on a 3-night hotel
stay or a 3-night flight + hotel package — in any destination!
Use Promo Code: OPAHPP50
Promo code Terms and Conditions
Book a qualifying hotel or flight + hotel package between April 11, 2008, and September 30, 2008 for 3 or more nights for travel between April 11, 2008, and December 1, 2008 via Orbitz and instantly receive $50 off your purchase through the use of the promotion code. To display qualifying hotels or packages, click “I have a promotion code.” and enter the promotion code, then look for hotels or packages marked with the icon “COUPON.” Limit one discount per hotel room and one promotion code per booking. Discounts are not redeemable for cash for any reason. Any attempt at fraud will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted. Orbitz reserves the right to change or limit the promotion in its sole discretion
There are also a few marketing come-ons, like attempts to sell baggage delivery service, the Entertainment Book, and Priority Pass.
In many ways the Orbitz program is substantially similar to Expedia’s, albeit a little less formal (no published requalification period or criteria) and less marketed (an email letting me know about the program would have been nice).
Now, I’ve been a ‘vip customer’ of both booking sites for a long time. They both had dedicated phone numbers and email addresses, and provided the fee waivers (of their own extra fees for changes to tickets only, not airline fees). So these programs really aren’t improvements over their old offerings, and in fact if I had to speculate they’re probably being offered more broadly than the old status so perhaps there’ll be a dilution of service offered.
Interestingly I only noticed a little text link on the upper right hand of my screen yesterday that said “Priority Access member – View benefits” otherwise I would never have known that Orbitz formalized the program. Either that, or announcement emails were caught by my spam server (although I usually check over there fairly thoroughly and would likely have noticed an email from a travel provider announcing elite status!).