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Amsterdam-based Booking.com quietly began powering hotel bookings on Southwest.com, displacing the previous partner, Expedia Inc.’s Orbitz Worldwide.
Orbitz had been powering hotels on Southwest for more than five years but Booking.com’s pay-at-the hotel model seems to blend much better with Southwest’s flexible fare policies, including same-day changes without additional fees. Unlike Booking.com, much of Orbitz’s hotel inventory uses the merchant model, which requires prepayment.
Southwest.com visitors can select the Hotel tab and navigate to a co-branded Southwest-Booking.com page on desktop, where they’ll see a selection of properties and signature Booking.com messaging such as “Prices in New York City for your dates are the lowest we’ve seen in 2 days” or that the room is “In high demand — only 3 rooms left!” The Booking.com branding is not showing up on mobile.
The lodging choices from Booking.com on Southwest also include shared accommodations, including dorm beds, according to the site, and many of the hotel choices are pay-at-the hotel with no prepayment requirement.
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In an interesting twist, Southwest Rapid Reward members who book a room on the Booking.com-powered hotel pages can earn airline miles for their hotel stays. Southwest also offered rewards points on hotel stays when Orbitz powered the airline’s hotel section.
With Booking.com taking over for Orbitz on Southwest, the airline’s website states that booking the Hampton Inn Manhattan-Times Square North for $323 comes with 323 Southwest Rapid Rewards points, which will be awarded when the stay is completed, for example.
While many of the rewards earnings provide the same number of points as dollars spent on the stay, there are more lucrative points giveaways on Southwest.com. For example, a Rapid Rewards member who booked the Novotel New York Times Square for a two-night stay for $798 in late November could earn 7,000 Rapid Rewards points.
This points for stays feature comes from Booking.com integrating the functionality of its Rocketmiles unit, which parent the Priceline Group acquired in February 2015 for $20 million.