On July 15 Venere announced on their blog that Expedia is buying Venere. Venere is an online booking website for hotels worldwide, with a large number of hotels in Italy. Expedia is a large online travel company running Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, TripAdvisor.com and other travel sites.
Venere started out in 1995 as an Italian company. In 2006, the private equity firm Advent International acquired 60% of Venere (a controlling stake in the company).
Earlier this year, Venere acquired WorldBy.com. WorldBy.com runs several destination sites (Tuscany.net, RomeBy.com, FlorenceBy.com) that represent hotels and vacation rentals (villas). Venere has always had vacation rental/villa rental listings as well as hotels. With the acquisition of WorldBy, they are heading more into the villa rentals market.
My old website, SlowTrav.com, was a Venere affilate since 2003. In 2006, when Venere introduced their “popup girl” (see screensnap above), I decided to change from Venere to Booking.com. Did Venere think that graphic would appeal to the people who book hotels? I don’t see her on the site now – maybe she has been removed (good idea!).
My new websites, Slow Europe and Cotswolder, affiliate with Booking.com for hotels throughout Europe. Booking.com and Active Hotels were separate companies, but a few years ago both were purchased by Priceline. Active Hotels was merged into Booking.com. Booking.com has a good selection of European hotels, good prices and easy online booking. They take your credit card information to secure your booking, but do not charge for booking or take a deposit. Changes or cancellations are easy to make online. They have customer support offices in Amsterdam and the US if you have any problems with your booking. I have used Booking.com many times and recommend them.
Merging Travel Businesses
Jeff at Beat of Hawaii wrote a good article about travel businesses merging – What Travel Industry Consolidation and Directional Selling Means To Your Trip Plans. He mentions Internet Brands who bought SlowTrav.com and several other travel communities.
European Vacation Rental Databases Owned by Wyndham
There are some large players in the online travel business. Wyndham Worldwide owns several hotel chains (Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada, etc.) and two of the largest vacation rental databases for Europe: Holiday Cottage Group (previously called Cendant), vacation rentals in the United Kingdom and Europe, and Cuendet, vacation rentals in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.