Kayak tests placing private-sale hotels into search results, collects booking detailsNewsBy Dennis Schaal | July 15, 2010Share This article was originally published on Kayak began testing the placement of Private Sale banner ads on top of its core hotel-search results in select markets and, unlike other metasearch websites, Kayak collects the booking details from the consumer when Kayak sources the hotel deal.When searching on Kayak.com for hotels in New York, Fort Lauderdale and Austin, Texas, for example, you'll see a Kayak Private Sale banner ad heading up hotel search results, like this:Private Sale is designed to offer steep discounts off room rates for limited time periods. The theory behind these semi-opaque sales is that the property doesn't suffer a hit to its brand because it is being offered to a select subset of consumers who sign up for these members-only deals and must log in to access them.The New York Helmsley Hotel, for instance, is being offered in the private sale pictured above for $245 per night on July 27 and 28, and Kayak says that's $50 per night cheaper than the going rate.However, the general public isn't aware from the publicly available banner ad that it's the Helmsley which is being offered in the Private Sale.On deals that Kayak sources directly from hotels, such as the Helmsley, Kayak tosses traditional comparison-shopping-site practices on their head and collects the booking information, including credit card numbers, from the consumer on these prepaid deals instead of linking to the supplier website for booking.Kayak, however, informs the consumer, "Your are purchasing a City King directly from New York Helmsley," for instance.Kayak hopes to increase conversions by making the booking experience sleeker and easier for its customers."It's all about streamlining the process for the consumer," says Brian Harniman, Kayak's executive vice president of marketing and distribution. "We're taking what could be a 7-10 page checkout and culling that down to three pages. There's a large conversion benefit.""For the self-sourced product, we designed the booking path," says Harniman. "We are using Open Hospitality Inc. to host the transaction site, manage private sale hotel rates/inventory, and provide some help on the sales side.""Open Hospitality has great relationships with hundreds of hotels worldwide, so they can offfer the Kayak Private Sale option as part of their services," Harniman says.Kayak doesn't store the customer information, Harniman says. Instead, Open Hospitality securely holds the information and then transfers it in a PCI-compliant manner to the property, he adds.Kayak's strategy to facilitate consumer bookings for Private Sale has some parallels to the booking assistant functionality it has deployed for flight reservations within its iPhone app.For Private Sale, Kayak also is sourcing hotel deals from partners, including members-only site BonVoyou and also Where I've Been.Kayak conceivably -- barring any contractual limitations -- could partner with other members-only websites to scale its private offerings.For these third-party-sourced hotel deals, Kayak hands off the user to a third-party site to book the hotels as has been Kayak's long-standing practice.For all of the bookings, whether the Private Sales inventory is sourced by Kayak [or its subcontractor] or third-party websites, Kayak says users are booking directly with the hotels."They get a confirmation e-mail from Kayak that tells them their credit card will be billed by the property," Harniman says. "Any customer service issues are handled at the property level."Kayak's assisted bookings, if successful, could become the norm among metasearch websites.One of Kayak's competitors, too, is testing such a hybrid model.