Mobile Commerce

Yelp Gets Into Hotel Bookings Biz

Yelp is working with the Hipmunk travel search engine to expand its hotel booking business. Hipmunk’s focus is letting travelers browse flights and hotels by a combination of factors like pricing, layover duration and amenities. Hipmunk is already in deals with direct-booking sites like Getaroom and Hotels.com.

The New York Times quoted Yelp spokesperson Rachel Walker as declining to say how many hotels would be included in the searches (“thought she said it was small”) and added: “Once we we feel confident that our users are happy with the experience, we’ll add more listings and eventually roll out booking functionality to tens of thousands of hotels.”

Hipmunk described this partnership as part of its overall investment and expansion plans.

“The partnership comes on the heels of Hipmunk’s recent oversubscribed Series C funding round, led by Oak Investment Partners. In addition to participation from existing investors, the company also revealed that it raised additional capital from new investors Industry Ventures and Nokia Growth Partners,” Hipmunk said on its blog. “The booking process is as simple as it is on Hipmunk’s site and mobile apps. Yelp users who search for hotels now see a ‘Reserve a Room’ button on supported hotel pages. After clicking, users are taken to a booking page within Yelp, where they quickly and easily complete all purchase information. Hipmunk confirms the reservation and sends a confirmation email to the user.”

The Times said that Yelp is also facing a lot of its own competition.

“Yelp began its foray into bookings in 2013, forging partnerships with companies like Delivery.com and Booker that have allowed it to process transactions for food delivery and spa appointments. But other online companies are also increasing their booking capabilities. Thanks to its acquisition of La Fourchette, the user-review site TripAdvisor now accepts restaurant reservations. And earlier this year Priceline, which already books flights and hotels, bought the reservations site OpenTable, aiming to add restaurants to its offerings,” the Times story said. “And another sign that the worlds of user-reviewed listings, bookings and online deals are increasingly colliding: Now Groupon is heading into Yelp’s territory. On Wednesday it announced the launch of Pages, an online directory of individual businesses that will include user reviews.”

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