RealTime IT News

lastminute.com WAP-Enables Restaurant Booking Service

[May 5] Bouncing back from post-IPO blues, lastminute.com has launched the U.K's first WAP restaurant booking service while also establishing an advertising and e-commerce relationship with Web portal Excite UK.

Both moves indicate that lastminute.com is looking increasingly like a company well-placed to capitalize on what is certain to be a boom in WAP-enabled mobile devices. Restaurant booking is potentially a "killer app" for this technology, at least in major cities.

Initially, lastminute.com will offer the service listing 200 specially selected restaurants in the U.K. They include such exclusive venues as the Aubergine, Asia de Cuba and the Conran restaurants.

Users will be able to access the service via BT Cellnet and Orange WAP portals, or directly at mobile.lastminute.com/wap.

Brent Hoberman, chief executive officer and co-founder of lastminute.com, said the new service was a perfect example of how his company's content could be easily tailored to new platforms.

"This is the first time a WAP user can complete an end-to-end," added Hoberman.

lastminute.com's deal with Excite UK will make its services available to both computer and mobile phone users of Excite.co.uk and Excite Mobile. The portals will now carry lastminute.com's full range of late flights, hotels, holidays, tickets, gifts and restaurant bookings.

To complete the deal, lastminute.com has had to promise a substantial amount of advertising on Excite UK, although it did not reveal any actual sums.

"It's great to have lastminute.com on board as an important new advertiser and e-commerce provider supplying a compelling new feature for our users," said Evan Rudowski, managing director of Excite Europe.

Describing his company's ideas for late bookings as "inspirational," Brent Hoberman said the deal with Excite was especially important because of Excite's WAP capabilities.

"We understand that entering a URL on a phone can be difficult and time-consuming. This is why we value the opportunity to partner with a WAP-enabled portal site like Excite UK," said Hoberman.