Largest online travel cock-up in history??

November 17, 2006

Very telling story on CBS news about what could possibly be the biggest failure/waste of money related to online travel I’ve ever heard! And surprise, surprise it’s not a VC’d up start-up who’ve blown all their capital on a system that doesn’t work. No, it’s the Pentagon who decided they’d replace the old system of paper forms being sent/faxed to a travel agent with a fancy new online travel reservation system for their employees.

The system was supposed to find the best airfares, cheapest hotel rates etc (so most likely just connected to a load of GDS’s). Apparently it offers incomplete lists of flights and hotels and fails to recognise categories of travel used by the National Guard (how the hell did that not get into the requirements).

The booking process is said to be approx half an hour. An amazing length of time for booking travel and unsurprisingly Defense Dept travelers are calling traditional travel agents to find the best flights/hotels/cars etc and then going back to the system to enter their choices (once the system is activated in an area they have to use it).

And the most incredible thing about this system failure? Yes, the cost. In typical government style (not just the US Gov, the UK is as guilty of failed government computer systems) it was initially estimated at $263 million (which is way too much in my opinion) and ended up costing a whopping $473 million! Now I don’t care how sophisticated the system is said to be, you could have built another Expedia for that price (probably more than one of them)!

Perhaps they should have got in tuch with Expedia and just bought a white label!

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3 Responses to “Largest online travel cock-up in history??”

  1. John Says:

    I cannot believe the Pentagon is using EXPEDIA. What are their “Intelligence” doing? If they perform a simple search in Google or Yahoo they will find plenty of complaints from people that used EXPEDIA (including mine). EXPEDIA is the only travel agency that is listed in the top ripoff link at the bad business bureau ( http://www.ripoffreport.com ) and has two “dedicated” websites due to poor customer support and lies: http://www.victimsofexpedia.com and http://www.shameonexpedia.com

    Of course, EXPEDIA will not cheat the pentagon. They only cheat regular customers.
    Kind regards

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  3. Anonymous Says:

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