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Value of a Platform to a Seller: Case of American Airlines and Online Travel Agencies

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Author Info

  • Volodymyr Bilotkach

    ()
    (Newcastle University, Department of Economics)

  • Nicholas G. Rupp

    ()
    (East Carolina University, Department of Economics)

  • Vivek Pai

    ()
    (University of California, Irvine, and KBB Department of Economics)

Abstract

We approach the issue of the value of a platform to a seller in a two-sided market where both buyers and sellers multi-home. A seller that loses access to a major buyer platform can potentially incur substantial financial losses. We exploit a recent conflict between American Airlines and two leading online travel agencies (Expedia and Orbitz), which dropped American Airlines fare quotes during the first quarter of 2011. We present a simple model of airline ticket distribution. This model provides a framework to analyze the events that happened in the American Airlines – online travel agency conflict. We analyze price data for the first quarter of 2010 and 2011, employing a simple difference-in-differences identification strategy to evaluate changes in American Airlines’ fares. After controlling for across-market heterogeneity, carrier-specific time-invariant effects, and time-specific carrier-invariant effects, American Airlines’ fares during the conflict were 2.7-4.2 percent lower than similar fares charged by American’s main competitors (United, Continental, Delta, and US Airways). The fare effect is most pronounced in the sub-sample of one-stop itineraries, where competition is stronger, and customers are more likely to have to rely on travel agents – rather than carriers’ own web-sites – for flight bookings. In sum, our findings indicate that access to major buyer platforms is considerably valuable to a seller. We estimate that during the first quarter of 2011 the loss of access to the Expedia/Orbitz platforms resulted in over $50 million reduction in revenue for American Airlines.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by NET Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-08.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1308

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Keywords: two-sided markets; value of platforms; online travel agents Length: 31 pages;

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  1. Kaiser, Ulrich & Wright, Julian, 2006. "Price structure in two-sided markets: Evidence from the magazine industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  2. Pauline Affeldt & Lapo Filistrucchi & Tobias J. Klein, 2012. "Upward Pricing Pressure in Two-Sided Markets," Working Papers - Economics wp2012_15.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
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  7. Bilotkach, Volodymyr, 2010. "Reputation, search cost, and airfares," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 251-257.
  8. Reisinger, Markus, 2012. "Platform competition for advertisers and users in media markets," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 243-252.
  9. Jihui Chen, 2006. "Differences in Average Prices on the Internet: Evidence from the Online Market for Air Travel," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(4), pages 656-670, October.
  10. Ambarish Chandra & Allan Collard-Wexler, 2009. "Mergers in Two-Sided Markets: An Application to the Canadian Newspaper Industry," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 1045-1070, December.
  11. Diego Escobari & Li Gan, 2007. "Price Dispersion under Costly Capacity and Demand Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 13075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Marc Rysman, 2009. "The Economics of Two-Sided Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 125-43, Summer.
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