The way that Cendant (NYSE:CD) and IAC/InterActive (NASDAQ:IACI) were smooching yesterday, maybe they should get a room. That would be a cinch since Cendant collects royalties from more than 6,000 franchised properties under names you know such as Howard Johnson's, Ramada, Travelodge, Super 8, and Days Inn. InterActive, in turn, runs the popular and Expedia travel booking sites.

The two companies agreed to prominently feature Cendant's hotels and motels on InterActive's site, but it's not as though either party is looking into monogamy. With more than 500,000 rooms to fill, Cendant has to get around if it wants to fill up its vacancies. That's why Cendant already has deals in place with InterActive rivals such as Sabre's (NYSE:TSG) Travelocity and Orbitz (NASDAQ:ORBZ).

In the same way that this is great for the wired traveler, it's also pretty sad for the lodging specialists. Cendant and its franchised property owners would clearly prefer if you were to book your rooms directly through them. Not only would they not have to pay out a commission, but they also have you as a captive viewer.

As it stands now, it's a lot like going to a bar and having your date line up with all of the other single barflies to see whether you're making the best decision. It may work out well for you, but it's pretty humiliating for the date -- or, in this case, the available vacancy.

That's why I'll never understand why the industry's many lodging operators run bone-dry websites with little to no sticky content. They would rather dump available rooms at dirt-cheap rates through the likes of (NASDAQ:PCLN) and Hotwire than create a magnetic destination that would allow them to move rooms on their terms.

The reason that Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO) has been on a scrutinized tear -- beyond its flimsy float -- is that it has been able to pass off its brokered deals as content.

I'm not naive. I realize that an empty room is a wash. Booked at enough pocket change to cover housekeeping, utilities, and processing fees, a cheap room booked is better than a vacant one. Yet why aren't the chains trying harder to draw users to their virtual front desk where they can charge retail?

Cendant's trying. Running is a great way to move some of its surplus room inventory. But the industry still needs a lot to learn. Our own Travel Center is a good place to start. Because content isn't just king -- it's a coatrack away from a king bed, too.

Which sites do you use when you need to book a flight or a room fast and at the best rate possible? What would draw you over to a lodging operator's own site? All this and more in the Cheap Air Fares discussion board.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to travel. He's off to Cedar Point in Ohio this very weekend. He also owns eight shares of Travelzoo, which he acquired for free six years ago in a bizarre marketing stunt.