Going from "you're fired" to "you're flying," Donald Trump had become the face of the newest online portal. GoTrump.com, powered by Sabre's (NYSE:TSG) Travelocity, launched on Tuesday.

Even though the 60,000 hotel offerings at GoTrump.com are essentially the same ones you'd find at Travelocity.com, Trump's site also emphasizes exotic vacation packages, along with Trump's favorite hotel picks in key cities. (The abundance of Ritz-Carlton selections, however, may lead one to question that feature's genuineness.)

Online travel has become an $80 billion business, but it's also becoming an awfully cookie-cutter type of affair these days. Even the once-edgy Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN) -- a pick two summers ago for Motley Fool Stock Advisor newsletter subscribers -- has embraced the more conventional travel-portal model.

Though they may not sense trouble at the moment, top online bookers such as Sabre and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) need to tread carefully, especially as individual providers get more creative with their interactive marketing.

It's bad enough that the online portals are now usually charging more than if you were to simply book directly through an air carrier of your choice; the largest portals are tacking on $5 transaction fees. You also have low-cost carriers, often excluded from portal travel listings, that now go directly to the customer with creative deals, like Southwest's (NYSE:LUV) "DING!" feature offering online users last-minute travel bargains.

Meanwhile, Trump's travel venture, like the rest of his non-gaming empire, is not part of the publicly traded Trump Entertainment Resorts (NASDAQ:TRMP). Investors can't buy in to the potential success of Go Trump directly; Sabre may be the better play if one is truly convinced that Trump's travel site will take off.

It won't be easy for that to happen. Third-party travel sites are plentiful. For years, IAC/Interactive (NASDAQ:IACI) has been setting up countless affiliate-branded sites through Travel Now and Hotels.com. (Those travel sites are now part of the Expedia spinoff.) However, GoTrump.com is far more detailed and personalized than your basic affiliate site. Here's me guessing out loud that the site may play a prominent role over the next season or two of Trump's hit TV show The Apprentice.

I realize that's not going too far out on a limb. But if I did have to travel out onto that limb, I'm not sure I'd book plans to get there throough GoTrump.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still relies on the portals to get basic travel information, but then he runs off to see whether better deals can be had directly through the provider. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.