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Internet

Travel agency takes off

Preview Travel launches the new, easy-to-remember Web address of reservations.com to buy airplane tickets on the Internet, another big step in its bid to become an online travel powerhouse.

Preview Travel today launched the new, easy-to-remember Web address of reservations.com to buy airplane tickets on the Internet, a major step in its bid to become an online travel powerhouse.

As reported by CNET last night, the company's new address will be listed in a newly revamped "destination" site on Netscape Communications' Web browser as early as Friday, along with Travelocity and other online travel companies, executives said.

The deal with Netscape shows the growing importance of online travel agencies. Unlike other forms of electronic commerce that have yet to take off, online travel services are quickly gaining popularity among people who want to search for the best deals themselves and avoid long waits at airline counters and storefront travel companies. In addition, airlines are anxious to transfer many of their expensive reservation systems to the Web to cut operating costs.

Preview Travel executives disclosed yesterday that they have sold $5 million in airline tickets and vacation packages through its services on America Online and the Web.

"We're on track to become a sizable travel agency," said Preview Travel President Ken Orton. Competition is stiff, he said, but the new Web address should help fuel further growth. The easy-to-remember Web name is a hot commodity as companies rush to launch new businesses on the Net.

Besides the convienent name, the service is extremely user-friendly, he said. The site displays a calendar to help book flights and stores personal information such as a passengers' frequent-flyer club membership number, as well as seating, meal, and cabin-class preferences.

Preview Travel, whose investors include AOL, US West, and venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, will continue to offer its existing Web site, vacations.com.

Online travel is popular among a growing number of business travelers, because many of them already have computers at their desktops. Such clients are coveted by travel agencies because many executives pay higher fares for last-minute bookings.