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Priceline Continues Marketing Alliances

"Name your own price" travel site Priceline is on a tear, adding another marketing alliance to its roster just days after acquiring a rival.

The Norwalk, Conn. firm will now provide a booking engine to OneTravel, a niche travel site specializing in budget vacations through specially negotiated, fixed-price rates. Importantly for Priceline, the agreement also calls for some of East Greenville, Pa.-based OneTravel.com's fixed-price travel deals to be made available to Priceline customers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Today's alliance with OneTravel.com makes it possible for priceline.com to significantly broaden the base of potential travelers we can reach with our money-saving services," said priceline.com Chief Marketing Officer Brett Keller. "It also is a synergistic arrangement, since it teams up two of the Web's best-known sites for travel deals."

Earlier this week, Priceline announced a similar marketing alliance with LastMinuteTravel, and announced the purchase of LowestFare.com.

LastMinuteTravel.com specializes in unused or soon-to-be-vacant trips, flights and hotel stays, is targeted at the large number of online-travel consumers who plan trips just before departure -- which Priceline has said represents a "significant" segment of its own business.

Meanwhile, the acquisition of Lowestfare.com expands Priceline's reach still further. Although owned by AMR Corp.'s American Airlines -- which had purchased the assets of the site's original founder, TWA Airlines -- American had not expressed much interested in operating Lowestfare.com. (AMR is an investor in competing travel site Orbitz.) But through the deal, Priceline gains access to a reasonably strong user base, with the site reaching about 602,000 visitors during March, according to Nielsen//NetRatings .

As a result of the newest arrangements, and deals signed earlier this year with eBay and AOL Time Warner's America Online, Priceline says will have relationships with sites that see about 85 million monthly Web visitors, according to data from Nielsen//NetRatings.

That's an increase of 810 percent from a year earlier, when Priceline principally served customers only from its own site and from Sabre's Travelocity.com. About 20 percent of Priceline's travel sales come from its online partner channels, the firm said.

"Through these marketing alliances, Priceline.com is able to place its Name Your Own Price booking engine on several of the most heavily-trafficked Internet sites and some of the Web's most popular travel buying destinations," Keller said. "By reaching the online travel-buying public through these cost-effective channels, we can further maximize our advertising spend."

In addition to marketing alliances, Priceline also continues heavy spending on offline advertising, earlier this year launching a new flight of radio ads featuring actor William Shatner.