Cheaptickets.com promotion snubs company's local roots
CHEAPTICKETS.COM, founded in Hawaii in 1986 as Cheap Tickets Inc., is marking its 20th anniversary with a Hawaii travel sale and trip giveaways.
There's a however, however.
"Travel is only within the contiguous United States," said Marita Hudson, communications manager. "However, as you can see our grand prize is a trip to Hawaii. This is such a great local story for your publication."
When pressed that it would be a better local story if local people were able to benefit from the promotion, Hudson declined to say why Hawaii and Alaska travel is excluded.
From the humble Kapiolani Boulevard kiosk where Michael and Sandra Hartley set up shop -- having gone into deep personal debt to do so -- the company went public in 1999 and was purchased by New York-based Cendant Corp. -- now known as Travelport Inc. -- for $425 million in cash in August 2001.
Hartley launched cheaptickets.com in 1997, becoming something of an online travel sales visionary.
Since the Hartleys sold the business, they established the nonprofit Hartley Foundation and are active in academic circles.
"It's wonderful to see that the growth and popularity of the brand still exists after 20 years," Michael Hartley said in the CheapTickets announcement, but he did not return Star-Bulletin calls.
Following the Cendant purchase, the entire visitor industry contracted because of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and the number of Cheap Tickets employees in Hawaii shrank.
Shortly before Thanksgiving of 2003, Cendant announced that it would close its Hawaii call center by the end of the year, leaving 200 employees out of work. The company said at the time that consumers were increasingly shifting from booking travel over the phone to doing it online -- and that call volume had dropped.
CheapTickets' owner also owns Orbitz Worldwide and other travel portals.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org