Zuji travel site set to take off

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2002, 12:00am

People in Hong Kong can now book hotels, air tickets, cars and holiday packages through Zuji.com.hk, a travel portal backed by 13 Asian airlines including Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines.

The site will officially launch this month but its booking services have been available since Thursday. The Singapore-based company launched its Singapore and Australia sites two months ago.

In operation since 2000, Zuji.com had repeatedly delayed its launch date due to poor market conditions and the impact of the September 11 attacks.

Zuji.com is powered by technology from Travelocity, a leading travel services Web site sporting features similar to those at Travelocity.com.

Zuji's main competitor in Asia is expected to be Hutchison-Priceline's priceline.com.hk Web site, which uses a different booking method. Users of Zuji.com can search for fares or hotels online and the results are displayed according to price.

Multiple searches are allowed.

Priceline has a unique name-your-own-price model which lets users name the price they are willing to pay for air fares, hotels or holiday deals. Priceline claims that such a model allows for a 20 to 30 per cent discount off the true ticket or hotel price, although users have reported varied experiences.

Backed by major airlines, Zuji.com has been likened to Orbitz.com in the United States, which puts it at an advantage over competing Internet travel services portals.

Priceline.com.hk would have to rely on airline partners to give it the discounted inventory it needed.

However, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines have stakes in Zuji.com so it is in their best interest to give it the best price and not to rival Priceline.