Expedia targets Booking.com in Europe with commission-based hotel plan

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*logoExpedia is tired of Priceline's growth in Europe through its Booking.com hotel website, so Expedia, which acquired hotel site Venere.com last year, has launched a commission-based hotel program of its own.

The program, Expedia Easy Manage, targets smaller properties in Europe, the Middle East and Africa that don't already distribute through the GDSs or Pegasus and may not have the wherewithal or inclination to get involved in Expedia's merchant-model program, known as Expedia Special Rate.

Matthew Cummack, Expedia's senior vice president of lodging, said the Easy Manage commission-based hotel program comes with no fixed costs for hoteliers and no registration fees.

"It removes barriers for huge segments of hotels, particularly in secondary and tertiary markets," Cummack said.

Expedia stated that Easy Manage would provide properties with incremental business, adding that the Expedia Inc. portfolio of websites, including Expedia, Hotels.com and Venere, handled the booking of some 56 million room nights in 2008.

Lorraine Sileo, PhoCusWright's vice president of research, said she believed Expedia's commission program eventually would make its mark in Europe, where Booking.com has become a market leader with a commission-based hotel program.

"Booking.com has such a huge lead in Europe right now that it will take a while for Venere to catch up, even with the new commission-based model," Sileo said. "But, certainly with Expedia behind them, they are a force to be reckoned with, and Booking.com will have to adjust to Venere as a more formidable competitor going forward. But the impact won't be felt on Booking.com for a while, we believe."

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