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Have search engine, will travel

Excite and Preview Travel will offer a cobranded reservations service on the Excite Network.

Search engine companies keep expanding their reach into new content areas, and travel is a hot topic.

In the latest example, Excite (XCIT) and Preview Travel said today that they would offer a cobranded reservations service on the Excite Network. The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal.

The partnership follows a similar deal by Excite rival Yahoo late last month.

The new service lets Excite users make travel reservations for airline tickets, car rentals, and hotels. The service will be part of the Excite travel channel, one of 14 topic-based channels that the company is rolling out.

As first reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, Excite is organizing itself around channels, an approach that it hopes will lure more advertisers and users. With channels, advertisers can better target their would-be customers. The new programming model is being launched this month.

Excite, which is gearing up for a secondary stock offering, faces intense competition, though.

On March 25, Yahoo announced a service called Yahoo Air Travel, offering its customers access to flights from all airlines, delivery of tickets, as well as customer support. Flights are booked and purchased through the Travelogix online travel network but carry the Yahoo brand.

In addition, software heavies such as Microsoft are establishing themselves in the online travel market as well.