RealTime IT News

Cendant Bolsters Its Travel Arm

Taking another step to build up its online travel business, Cendant is acquiring hotel site Lodging.com, which offers unpublished, discounted rates at approximately 3,000 hotels, mostly in North America and the Caribbean.

Financial specifics of the all-cash deal were not disclosed but New York City-based Cendant said the transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings but not material to Cendant. Privately held Lodging.com generates about 115,000 hotel reservations per month.

Cendant said that Lodging.com will become the preferred hotel distribution partner of Trip Network Inc., an independent Cendant affiliate, providing lodging discounts to Trip.com and Cheaptickets.com customers. It's also expected that Cendant's Galileo travel agencies and their customers will gain access to Lodging.com's inventory.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Lodging.com, originally called Travelbase, was established in 1995 as an online reference guide for ski destinations. The company began taking online hotel reservations in 1997 to satisfy the needs of its customers, and the hotel business quickly took off.

The online hotel reservation business is revolutionizing the lodging industry and is likely to garner revenues of about $15.5 billion in 2006, up from an estimated $3.8 billion in 2000, according to a new industry study released last week.

The latest deal "fits perfectly into Cendant's travel distribution strategy as it gives us immediate access to additional discounted lodging merchant inventory ... (and) great technology ..."said Samuel L. Katz, chairman and CEO of Cendant's Travel Distribution Division.

Cendant's travel division, established in October 2001, includes Galileo, a global distribution system serving more than 45,000 travel agencies and 51,000 hotels; hotel distribution and services businesses, including Wizcom, THOR, and Trust International; Cendant Travel Services, a travel agency that operates eight contact centers for Cendant-affiliated brands; and an affiliation with Trip Network Inc., which operates Trip.com and Cheaptickets.com.