Last Week, travel site Travelzoo announced that it had purchased the domain Fly.com for $1.8 million. Not a lot of details were released about the transaction, so I contacted Travelzoo to find out a bit more. Mindy Joyce, Travelzoo's senior marketing director got back to me and answered a few questions.
G:Obviously fly.com is a tremendous domain to have for a travel site. How did this transaction come about? Did Travelzoo approach Fly.com or vice versa?
Mindy Joyce: Travelzoo was considering names for its new travel search engine when we became aware of the availability of Fly.com through a domain broker. We recognized the name as a perfect match to Travelzoo’s renowned approach: simple, fun, and world class.
G: Who was behind Fly.com before Travelzoo purchased it?
MJ: Decline to answer due to confidentiality agreement with former owner.
G: When do you expect Travelzoo's version of Fly.com to go live? [note: nothing was up yet when I contacted Travelzoo]
MJ: A beta version of our travel search engine is already available at www.fly.com. It includes a number of innovations, such as our simultaneous search for fares in all cabin classes so users won’t miss a great fare in any cabin, at-a-glance Summary view, and “Why Me” boxes, which provide users with useful information. For example, users searching NYC-SFO would see “Why Me” boxes that highlight in-flight entertainment and Internet options available. And this is just our beta version. We expect to officially launch Fly.com within a couple of months.
G: Will Fly.com differ from Travelzoo.com? If so, how? Will it feature only flight-related content or will it incorporate other forms of travel as well?
MJ: Our commitment to the highest standards of quality and user experience apply to all of our products including Fly.com and Travelzoo.com, and use of both Web sites is completely free of charge. That said, there are differences between Fly.com and Travelzoo.com.
Travelzoo is the home to the best travel deals. Our deal experts review hundreds of offers to find the best travel deals, and publish only the very best deals in our weekly Top 20 e-mail newsletter, which is now received by over 14 million subscribers worldwide. These deals also appear on Travelzoo.com.
Fly.com is a search engine that simplifies travel search. Users of Fly.com can find and compare the best flight options from multiple sources, including airline and online travel agency Web sites. Once users find their desired itinerary, Fly.com takes users directly to airline or online travel agencies of their choice to book their travel. We plan to offer hotel, rental car, cruise, vacation package, and other complementary search categories later this year, as well as integrate deals from Travelzoo on the Fly.com Web site.
Thank you to Mindy for discussing the deal with me. Domainwire.com does offer some additional information about the domain:
It was almost 10 years ago that the domain name reportedly changed hands for $1.5 million. So in about 10 years the domain name appreciated less than 2% per year. Of course, 10 years ago the dot.com bubble was at its peak, so the $1.5 million purchase price was probably paid at the top of the bubble. The value then declined before coming back up. The owners of the domain name have been monetizing it, too. So the total return is greater than 20%.
The domain name was listed in September’s Great Domains auction at with a reserve over $2 million. The domain was transferred to Travelzoo on January 20, 2009.
It should be interesting to find out how much value the fly.com domain picks up with Travelzoo's efforts behind it. The current state of the economy will certainly have many people looking for the best possible deal when traveling. If they can brand Fly.com well, it could turn out to be a very smart move for Travelzoo (Mindy did not answer my question about what kind of branding strategies they had in mind). If it doesn't turn out well, maybe they can sell it to Levi's who can resurrect their Button Your Fly campaign.