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While this deal is small, it signals that the Expedia-backed hotel-search company wants to better identify the desires of its customers and become more sophisticated at proposing tailor-made offers that are relevant.

A lot of hotel-search sites aim to present users with search results tailored just for them, and now Trivago has acquired a small company that it hopes will get it closer to that goal.

The Expedia-backed hotel searcher has acquired a small Hamburg-based company, Tripl.

The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, but the transaction was undoubtedly small. Tripl had raised only about $270,000, or €230,000, in funding from HR Ventures and Jumeirah Investment, which collectively owned about 17 percent of Tripl before the Trivago acquisition.

Trivago, which claims to list 1.8 million properties, said it intends to use the technology to find ways to offer more personalized hotel recommendations to its users. The company said it is working on new interfaces beyond the basic search parameters it currently has, but it declined to go into details.

Founded in 2015, Tripl pulled interests data from Facebook (“I like kitesurfing”) and a questionnaire (“Which of these are your vacation goals? Culture, Party, Relaxing, Romance, and Luxury?”) to make destination and activity recommendations based on what like-minded people tend to book. Other factors, like weather forecasts and pricing, affect its recommendations, too.

Tripl only had two employees at the time of the acquisition — co-founders Hendrik Kleinwaechter, 27, and Christian Heimerl, 35. Kleinwaechter joins Trivago as a software engineer at its Düsseldorf headquarters, consulting with teams that work on personalization tools. Heimerl has started a new startup in Berlin that builds products related to heating, cooling, and security services.

Rolf Schrömgens, co-founder and chief executive of Trivago, said of the tech acquisition that it “will enhance Trivago’s product with personalization technology that uses both Big Data and a customer-centric approach to give more personalized recommendations for the ideal hotel.”

Trivago may benefit not only from Tripl’s technical approach but from how it addressed both consumer and regulator concerns about privacy. Authorities in Germany and many of its citizens are very reluctant to OK sharing personal data, but Tripl apparently succeeded with many of them while keeping its privacy policy briefer than Trivago’s.

Yet providing search results that are more “personalized” than generic criteria, like whether a property has a business center or is located near nightlife, has been elusive.

Last year, business travel company Deem acquired Olset, which had developed a hotel recommendation service based on machine learning. Serko, a corporate booking player in New Zealand, has been working on some tools in-house. Nara, a similar data analytics company — but one focused on consumers — does not appear to have set the world on fire. A German startup Nekst has sputtered out.

Talent Acquisitions

Still, the broader trend remains: Large travel companies continue to look for technical talent through acquisitions of startups that specialize in skills like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and mobile development. Tripl had won a startup competition at the ITB trade fair in 2016.

Since 2015, Trivago has acquired three other companies: Rheinfabrik, an application developer; MyHotelShop, which offers marketing solutions to hoteliers, and Base7booking, a property management interface for hoteliers.

It’s not alone. Trivago’s announcement comes just weeks after disclosed that it had made an acqui-hire of a tiny software company called Evature. That startup was based in Tel Aviv and offered natural language and chatbot-related technologies for hotels, airlines, travel agencies, and airports.

When asked how this deal represents Trivago’s larger strategy, CEO Schrömgens said: “We are not looking to be an umbrella company, and we only pursue tech acquisitions that can be integrated into Trivago.”

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Tags: artificial intelligence, mergers and acquisitions, trivago

Photo credit: Christian Heimerl (left) and Hendrik Kleinwaechter are the co-founders of Tripl. Kleinwaechter will join the team at Trivago as a software engineer while Heimerl is moving on to a smart-home business. Trivago

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