Booking.com buys HotelsCombined

LAST month’s purchase of the HotelsCombined hotel metasearch site by Booking Holdings has not been widely reported, but is understood to be one of the largest technology acquisitions of an Australian-founded travel company in recent years. Sydney-based HotelsCombined was established in 2005 by three former HotelClub staffers, Yury Shar, Brendon McQueen and Michael Doubinski, and had developed a global network of thousands of affiliate partnerships including groups such as Ryanair, SkyScanner and Momondo, which is now also part of Booking Holdings. The company’s website aggregates pricing from hundreds of accommodation sources, promising to find the best price with a money-back guarantee.

Under its new ownership, HotelsCombined will report into Booking Holdings’ KAYAK brand, which has a range of subsidiaries including Cheapflights, Mundi and Momondo. “HotelsCombined has built a strong brand with loyal customers across APAC, and we believe the team will be a great addition to KAYAK to further expand our worldwide metasearch strategy,” said Booking Holdings ceo Glenn Fogel.

HotelsCombined ceo Hichame Assi said operating under the KAYAK umbrella “will strengthen our proposition to both customers and partners with greater scale, product breadth and innovation”.

The price paid for HotelsCombined has not been made public at this stage, but analysts speculate it is likely to be around 12 months’ worth of TTV, in the range of US$250 million to US$300 million.

There’s also significant conjecture about whether Booking.com plans to maintain the HotelsCombined brand in markets where KAYAK has a lower penetration, or instead migrate the business to its parent operation.

Another potential rationale for the deal is for Booking to drive more traffic from Google and Facebook, optimising its massive advertising spends with the platforms.

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