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acquiring hotel site Lodging.com, which offers unpublished,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.

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