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Booking Holdings hasn't given adequate focus to its partnerships business in the past, ceding much ground to Expedia Group on that front. Acquiring hotel distributor Getaroom will give potential affiliates another reason to sign up.

In its first pandemic-era acquisition, Booking Holdings agreed to buy hotel wholesaler Getaroom for $1.2 billion, the companies announced Friday.

When the deal closes, Booking Holdings will fold Dallas-based Getaroom, which has more than 150 affiliate partners for its wholesale hotel business, into Booking’s U.S.-based Priceline brand to build the latter’s partnerships business.

The plan is to pair the Priceline Partnership Network, which powers numerous websites such as U.S. Armed Forces Travel behind the scenes, with Getaroom to create a new Strategic Partnerships business, Booking Holdings stated.

The move comes as rival Expedia Group is making it a strategic imperative to bolster its own, much larger partnerships’ businesses. Expedia just sold corporate travel brand Egencia to American Express Global Business Travel and won a long-term agreement to power the travel management company’s hotel business.

Booking said its Getaroom acquisition, which is subject to customary regulatory approvals and closing conditions, would be accretive to both participating hotels and affiliate partners. Getaroom signs wholesale hotel deals with hotels, and distributes them through its affiliate partners.

Getaroom was founded in 2009 by Bob Diener and David Litman, who met in law school in the 1980s and likewise founded Hotel Reservations Network, later called Hotels.com in the 1990s. They sold Hotels.com in stages to Barry Diller’s USA Networks starting in 1999, and sold a majority stake of Getaroom to private equity firm Court Square Capital in 2018.

At the time of the sale to Court Square Capital, Getaroom did an estimated $1 billion in gross sales. Getaroom had been self-funded prior to the deal with the private equity firm.

“As the travel industry continues to recover from the pandemic, we are continuously looking for opportunities to better support both our partners and our customers. Over the years, strategic partnerships have played an important role in our efforts to reach more customers through new channels,” said Brett Keller, Priceline CEO in a statement. “By combining the technology and expertise of Getaroom and Priceline, we can further streamline distribution for our hotel partners and provide new and better solutions for the U.S. accommodations segment.”

Getaroom started as a consumer travel website and still has a traveler-facing business, but its main focus today is business-to-business partnerships.

The companies said that Getaroom will stay headquartered in Dallas, and its CEO, Matt Davis, will take charge of Priceline’s new Strategic Partnerships business.

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Tags: booking holdings, expedia, getaroom, hotels, mergers, mergers and acquisitions

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