If you’re like me, finding the best deals on travel booking sites can get complicated. There’s a seemingly endless amount of options and deals, and even more travel websites to actually choose from. Luckily, I’ve been around the block on the travel website circuit, as I’ve been traveling around the world for over 5 years now.
Today we’re going to be taking a close look at Kayak vs Orbitz. Which websites should you put your time and energy into? By the end of this article, you’re going to understand the major differences between the two, see the key features of each, get some decision-making tips, and know a few alternative websites to consider. Let’s jump in!
Bottom Line Up Front
The bottom line here is that Kayak is a better site to look for deals on. It’s a travel search engine that utilizes all of the travel websites, instead of just one. Kayak has also won multiple awards across the board, such as Time’s “Top 50 Websites of 2009,” Travel + Leisure’s “Best Apps for Business Travelers,” and The People’s Choice Awards for “Best Travel Site.”
Main Differences Between Kayak and Orbitz
Here are the main differences between Kaya and Orbitz, in a bit more detail.
- Kayak was founded by the owner of Orbitz, in an effort to solve a problem that Orbitz was having about people leaving the website early, whereas Orbitz was simply founded on the notion to give people good travel deals
- Kayak’s incredibly easy to use, and has many tools such as the Comparison Tool and the Price Alerts Tool, whereas Orbitz doesn’t have many “special” features
- Kayak has an overall smoother user interface, while Orbitz can get clunky and overwhelming
- Orbitz overall has higher prices, whereas Kayak can help you find the best price across multiple travel platforms
- Orbitz’s reward program can rack up points fast, while Kayak’s reward system takes longer to build
- Orbitz’s blog is a bit more low-key and back-burner, while Kayak’s blog has more exciting content and more beautiful images
Now let’s take a good hard look at each of these websites to understand their key features.
Kayak was actually started by one of the founders of Orbitz, who understood that most people simply booked directly to the hotel/flight source right after leaving the website. He decided that if he could essentially design a “travel search engine,” then he could have the best of both worlds. Thus, Kayak was founded in 2004 with the original name “Travel Search Engine, Inc.” Eventually it expanded to be one of the biggest travel websites in the world, and it is now available in over 30 countries around the world.
Ease of Use
Kayak has an overall solid user interface. My favorite part is how minimalist the site is compared to its alternatives, like Expedia. From the moment you open the site, you are prompted to enter travel details about your plans. The site loads fast, efficient, and is easy to sort. One tool that’s made Kayak popular against other travel websites is its comparison tool. Essentially this allows you to compare travel deals across multiple travel sites… Which is a game changer if you don’t want to browse them all individually.
Another fantastic component of Kayak’s website is its drop-dead gorgeous imagery. I find the photography on this website to be more high quality than on other sites. As a resident photographer, this gets my juices flowing. Browsing Kayak always has a tendency to leave me feeling inspired.
Kayak is specifically designed to help you book your entire travel experience. Thus, it can be used to book flights, hotels, cars, experiences, trains, and buses. It even has package deals that help push all of these options into one. In terms of global coverage, Kayak pretty much covers it all.
One of my favorite features of Kayak is its “Price Alert” system. This essentially allows you to put a reminder on flights or areas you’re looking to travel to, and have it alert you once the prices drop. This is massively helpful in that you don’t have to keep checking the website over and over to get the best deals.
In terms of pricing, Kayak is easily one of the best travel websites to find solid deals. Instead of hosting its deals “in-house,” it allows you to search other travel websites to compare the best deals. This means you’re getting the best prices on the entire internet. I always start my searches on Kayak, then end up on websites where I actually purchase the fares like Orbitz or Expedia.
Kayak has a rewards program that’s designed specifically for the United States, called the U.S. Kayak Rewards Explorer Program. As you book more fares via the Kayak website, you can begin to collect “Explorer Points,” which can be used for various perks and rewards. For example, if you have 10,000 Explorer points, you’ll get a $10 gift card. However, if you use the points for something more specific, like travel or dining, you’ll often get a better deal.
Kayak has a fairly solid travel blog that can help you gain some travel hacks and tips. My favorite part about their blog is that they also sync with the news, which means you can get up-to-date information on the latest travel trends.
Orbitz is a travel booking website that was founded in 2001 by several airline companies. The company was essentially a response to online travel agencies. The airlines (more specifically Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and American,) all joined forces to get their skin in the game. The company was even jokingly called “The Travelocity Terminator” when it first got started. Ironically, it was eventually it was bought out by Expedia, and it is now a part of Expedia Group.
Ease of Use
Orbitz has a fairly good user interface in that it displays lots of information to you about your options. The website is almost a direct replica of Expedia, and it processes data in similar ways. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. For one, Orbitz puts out a lot of information about its travel destinations. However, on the other hand, it can easily get overwhelming. The best way to get good at using Orbitz is to practice. Once the user interface is mastered, you’ll be able to get more information than sites like Kayak.
Orbitz focuses primarily on flights, cars, attractions, and cruises. Like I said above, it’s almost a direct replica of Expedia in terms of its features, however, it does boast a slightly more blue color scheme. This means that Orbitz taps into one of the biggest travel networks in the world, and will give you countless options for how to book your next vacation. The coverage is worldwide as well, so if you’re looking for an international deal, look no further.
Orbitz has fairly good deals, to the point where it is on par with its parent sites like Expedia and Travelocity. However, in terms of overall solid deals, Kayak does a better job because it takes all of these sites into account at once. The best way to get solid deals via Orbitz is to use its rewards program, and stack up points.
Orbitz has a rewards program called Orbitz Rewards, which has three different tiers of savings. Joining the program is free, and the more hotel rooms you book, the faster you’ll move up the ranks of Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The program also utilizes a system called “Orbucks,” within which each one is worth $1. These “Orbucks” rack up, and you can use them to get additional perks like free wifi in hotels, upgrades, and breakfasts.
The Orbitz travel blog isn’t nearly as exciting as Kayaks, primarily in that the articles seem like they were put together as an afterthought. This isn’t to say they aren’t helpful but to me, they’re not as exciting as the ones on Kayak.
Decision Making Tips
Now that we know the primary features of both Kayak and Orbitz, let’s take a look at some factors to help you make an educated decision.
Are you looking for a travel search engine or a travel agency?
If you’re looking for a travel search engine then the obvious choice is to use Kayak. Kayak lets you compare the prices of a certain trip across multiple platforms, effectively giving you the best deal on the internet. However, if you’re looking to book on a direct site, Orbitz might be the better option. You’ll get more straightforward information, and be able to tap into the massive travel network that is Expedia.
Do you prefer a better user experience or more information?
If you prefer to have a beautiful, flowing experience booking your next vacation, Kayak is the way to go. You’ll find that the website pulls you in with its remarkable visuals, and leads you gently to your booking. Orbitz, on the other hand, is a bit more information-centric. Sure, you’ll find more details about your travel experience here, but it won’t be near as fun. To each their own!
Alternatives to Consider
Let’s take a look at some alternative travel websites to consider.
Priceline is an interesting alternative to both Kayak and Orbitz in that it requires a bit of risk to be fully appreciated. Users set a price point and a destination, then are required to “lock in” their price before determining where they’ll actually be going. This means you could end up booking a hotel that might not be your first choice, but you’ll be saving big bucks in the process. I always recommend Priceline to people that are more flexible in their travels or anyone who might not be spending all of their time in their hotel.
If you’re looking for the creme de la creme of the travel world, Expedia is your option. They own many of the big travel websites including Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire, and Hotels.com. This means they essentially have the biggest network on the internet, which makes them a great brand if you’re looking to bundle your deals together. If you’re looking for an all-in-one destination to book your entire travel experience, I couldn’t recommend Expedia more.
See also: Priceline vs Expedia
If you’re looking to book a hotel and only a hotel, Hotels.com is the best option, simply because of their killer rewards program. For every 10th night, you stay at a hotel booked through Hotels.com, you’ll get a single night free. This can add up very fast if you’re a frequent vacationer, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: No, Kayak is actually owned by Priceline, which is one of the leading competitors to Expedia. Priceline bought Kayak in 2012 and is also an owner of Booking.com and Opentable.
Answer: On occasion, Orbitz can have better deals than Kayak. However, Kayak is a travel search engine whereas Orbitz is simply a travel agency. Always start with Kayak because it will end up eventually directing you to Orbitz if it has the best deals.
Answer: Yes. If anything, Kayak might be one of the best sites on the web to find a solid flight. Over the years its built up a solid reputation in the industry and has won numerous awards.
If you’re trying to decide which website to use to book your next travel experience, use Kayak. It’s got a more in-depth system and allows you to search across the entire internet instead of one database. However, keep in mind that the best deal might end up being on Orbitz, which Kayak would direct you to.
I also enjoy Kayak more because the website flows a bit more easily, and the visuals make it a more appetizing experience. I hope this article has been helpful to you in determining where to book your next vacation. Happy travels!
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