Interesting move from Priceline with news that it has acquired US-based startup Buuteeq, a full-service digital marketing brand for hotels.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Priceline says the company will operate as an independent brand within the group.
The company (TLabs here) was founded by former Microsoft executives Forest Key, Adam Brownstein and Brian Saab.
It initially got off the ground in February 2010 with early backing to the tune of $1.4 million via its founders, angel investors and Equitas. The company later raised a further $3.5 million in January 2011 and $2 million in February 2012, on both occasions from Mike Galgon and Geoff Entress.
The biggest investment round came in late-2012 when it captured $10 million from Concur and Madrona.
The idea behind Buuteeq is that it helps hotels create and manage their websites, mobile and social channels, as well as promotions and reservations, all from a single platform.
Priceline president and CEO Darren Huston says:
"Buuteeq has built an innovative, cloud-based marketing platform that we see playing a key role in helping us deliver even more value to our global accommodations partners worldwide."
By April of this year, CEO and co-founder Forest Key was claiming some 6,000 hotels had signed up to use the service, coinciding with a large increase in the number of employees to 130.
In the acquisition announcement, Key says:
"As the global leader in online accommodations, The Priceline Group houses the vision, strategy and expertise to guide our mission to deliver a transformative digital marketing solution to hotel owners, hotel brands, and management teams."
Priceline's motivation for buying the company is pretty clear - with Buuteeq it is arguably trying to cover off the one part of the hotel booking ecosystem that it can't control with a consumer-facing brand, allowing hoteliers to improve their web services and presence to attract those consumers who choose to go direct.
In short: help consumers find and book hotels on Priceline and Booking.com (as an intermediary), have B2B services in the shape of Buuteeq for hotel owners.
Priceline's acquisition strategy, under the tutelage of Glenn Fogel, head of worldwide planning and strategy and EVP of corporate development, is not prolific but generally makes a big splash when it takes place.
The purchase of Kayak for $1.8 billion in late-2012 captured plenty of attention but most in the industry with longer memories cite the acquisition of Booking.com as a pivotal moment in the history of the company, and one which turned the online hotel sector on its head forever.
Car rental service TravelJigsaw was bought for an undisclosed fee in May 2010. The service has been re-branded to RentalCars.