Market Segmentation: The Role of Opaque Travel Agencies
AbstractThis paper investigates the role of discount travel agencies such as Priceline and Hotwire in the market segmentation of the hotel and airline industries. These agencies conceal important characteristics of the offered services, such as hotel locations or flight schedules. We explicitly model this opaque feature and show that it enables service providers to price discriminate between those customers who are sensitive to service characteristics and those who are not. Service providers can profit from such discrimination despite the fact that the opaque feature virtually erases product differentiation and thus intensifies competition. The reason is that the intensified competition for less sensitive customers enables service providers to commit to a higher price for more sensitive customers, which leads to higher profits overall. This explains why airlines or hotels are willing to lose the advantage of product differentiation and offer services through discount travel agencies.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-310.
Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 05 Feb 2008
Date of revision:
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market segmentation; opaque travel agency; separation equilibrium; price discrimination;
Other versions of this item:
- Dmitry Shapiro & Xianwen Shi, 2008. "Market Segmentation: The Role of Opaque Travel Agencies," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(4), pages 803-837, December.
- D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
- D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
- L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
- M31 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Marketing and Advertising - - - Marketing
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-02-16 (All new papers)
- NEP-COM-2008-02-16 (Industrial Competition)
- NEP-MIC-2008-02-16 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-MKT-2008-02-16 (Marketing)
- NEP-TUR-2008-02-16 (Tourism Economics)
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