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Shiji, the hospitality tech giant, has acquired IcePortal, a small firm that helps hoteliers manage the digital imagery of their properties and display them correctly on distribution partners like online travel agencies. IcePortal, based in Hollywood, Florida, also markets its services to vacation rental property managers.
A year ago, Shiji Group, the Beijing-based parent company, stepped up its global expansion after receiving a $486 million investment from Alibaba, giving the e-commerce giant a 13 percent stake. More than 60,000 hotels use the services of Shiji’s 20 foreign subsidiaries.
IcePortal sells imagery management services to 54,000 hotels worldwide via enterprise software solutions mainly to about 60 large companies, such as Wyndham, Accor, Choice, Hyatt, Hilton, and WorldHotels.
The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal. IcePortal hadn’t raised external funding. Shiji said it would integrate IcePortal’s media content distribution function into its platform but didn’t elaborate.
IcePortal’s visual content services are similar to better-marketed Leonardo, a company acquired last November by Jonas Software, a Toronto-based holding company for software providers across multiple verticals that recently decided to go big in travel. Shiji had looked closely into acquiring Leonardo instead, but eventually backed away, said a source familiar with Leonardo.
IcePortal only charges hotels for its services, while Leonardo charges both hoteliers and distribution partners for its services.
Hotels use the software primarily to vet the quality of their photos, videos, and other visual content. Online travel agencies like Booking.com and Expedia will favor listings in their search results that have high-quality imagery, and IcePortal uses a mix of automated and manual efforts to make sure that hotels are providing the agencies with high-quality visuals.
IcePortal also helps hotel companies and vacation rental property management companies make sure that they have identified their content in ways that the computers at online travel agencies and global distribution systems will recognize, such as matching words like Jacuzzi and hot tub.
The company gives hoteliers and property managers a score for the quality of their content and a dashboard that highlights content that needs improvement.
Henry Woodman, president of ICE Portal, founded IcePortal in 2004. It has 17 employees and some external contractors.
In the past year, Shiji acquired StayNTouch, a hotel tech services provider, and Concept Software Systems, a retail tech provider for golf, spa, and other activities. A few months ago, it bought out the remaining shareholders of SnapShot, an analytics dashboard.
Shiji Group looks intent to continue to acquire more companies. The company revealed this week that it plans to bid for a majority stake in Hisense, a vendor of e-commerce platforms for the hospitality industry, for $68.31 million. Hisense makes software for tablet devices that restaurant workers use to take orders, among other things, primarily in Asia.