Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Dec. 29, 2004

TAKE OUT, BRING IN: IAC/InterActiveCorp and Cendant revealed some dizzying moves, with IAC taking its travel businesses public and Cendant bringing in house Gullivers Travel Associates. Growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific are on both companies' minds. Regarding IAC, it intends to spin off its 14 IAC travel businesses into a public company called Expedia. The move will make Expedia a "pure-play" travel company that is designed to spur its growth in Europe and Asia-Pacific and get around the confusion of having the travel businesses, including Expedia, Hotwire, Hotels.com and Classic Custom Vacations, fused with IAC's 25 other electronic retailing, financial services and personals businesses, officials said. What is now IAC will become two public companies, IAC and Expedia. After the spin-off, which is expected to take place in the second quarter and is subject to a shareholder vote and other approvals, Expedia will be a company with some $1.8 billion in annual revenue, officials said.

CENDANT, meanwhile, agreed to acquire U.K.-based wholesaler Gullivers Travel Associates for $1.1 billion in cash. That comes on top of Cendant's recent acquisition of Orbitz for $1.25 billion and Cendant's pending purchase of ebookers for $329.6 million. The three purchases give Cendant major footholds as an intermediary in the U.S., Europe and Asia, as well as a strong presence as a wholesaler. Cendant's purchase of Gullivers, which is expected to close in April, includes Gullivers' retail arm, OctopusTravel.com, and USTOA member Travel Bound. The deal includes an additional payout if Gullivers reaches certain performance goals in 2004 [another $96 million] and 2005 [an undisclosed amount]. Founded in 1975 and employing 2,400 people, Gullivers wholesales hotels, destination services, packages and group tours. Although it sells in Europe and throughout the world, Gullivers largest outbound market is Asia, including Japan, China and Hong Kong.

TRISEPT SOLUTIONS redesigned its VAX VacationAccess Web site. Among the changes, Trisept added a vendor resource center, streamlined the vacation section to integrate dynamic and pre-packaged vacations, and added new content -- including video clips and virtual tours -- to the destinations section. Trisept officials said the home page at www.vaxvacationaccess.com was redesigned for eased navigation to book and manage reservations, and access a vendor center, destination content and news. Trisept dropped the site's City Vacations section to streamline vacation searches. Previously, Trisept said, agents had to choose either the Vacations booking engine or City Vacations, a search tool that accommodated dynamic packaging. With the redesign, however, agents can click the Vacations tab and access both a dynamic booking engine and a booking engine for pre-packaged vacations on the same page, officials said.

PLENTY OF SEARCH ACTIVITY: Kayak.com, the travel-search startup that recently partnered with America Online, got a cash infusion of $7 million. The Series B financing round, which will be used for product development and marketing, was led by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Since its inception, Kayak has raised $15.5 million in funding. The other investors are General Catalyst Partners and AOL.

KAYAK COMPETITOR SIDESTEP, meanwhile, and Hyatt Corp. forged a marketing partnership in which the search engine will drive consumers to the Hyatt Web site. That agreement follows a similar pact that SideStep revealed two weeks ago with WestJet, the low-cost Canadian airline. SideStep offers suppliers several advertising programs that drive traffic to the suppliers' Web sites for bookings.

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