More acquisition news in the online travel space. This time it’s the turn of Groupon, which this morning announced that it’s acquired Madrid, Spain-based Blink, a last minute hotel booking app that competes with the likes of the heavily backed HotelTonight, and Hot Hotels, also headquartered in Spain. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed.
Available as an Android and iOS, Blink follows along the same lines as its competitors, offering a selection of last minute deals each day to help fill partner hotel’s inventory, while also passing on significant savings to customers. It currently works with more than 2,000 hotel partners in Eight European countries.
Groupon says it’s purchased Blink, which will be rebranded “Blink by Groupon” and will continue to operate as a separate entity, to bolster its Groupon Getaways travel business. Specifically, it says, the addition of same-day bookings complements Groupon Getaways’ array of travel offers, including hotel deals, all-inclusive travel packages, and full-service tours.
In a statement, Aaron Cooper, senior vice president of Groupon Getaways, talks up Blink’s mobile-first experience, hotel inventory tech, and the startup’s team. “The combination of a fantastic mobile app, same-day inventory management for properties and a team that is obsessed with mobile and last-minute travel will help us further expand our travel business as the go-to destination for great deals on great places to stay,” he says.
And it’s certainly true that it makes sense for Groupon to buy its way in to the last minute hotel bookings space, which is certainly heating up right now — witness HotelTonight’s $45 million Series D round, if you weren’t convinced. It also makes sense for Blink to sell now to a company as large as Groupon, as competition in the space is likely to become brutal with such a well-financed competitor.
So where does this leave Bink’s neighbour, Hot Hotels?
In a statement issued to TechCrunch, Conor O´Connor, Hot Hotels CEO, said: “Blink and Groupon is just one of a number of consolidations lately in the travel space. In addition, the $45m Series D funding round by Hotel Tonight is a huge validation of the last minute hotel booking space. Hot Hotels continues to grow. Bookings are up and downloads are up. We´ve had a record summer. Travel and mobile are two of the best sectors to be in right now”.
Upbeat words to say the least.
Another competitor is JustBook, backed by Index Ventures and DN Capital. It partners with 4,000 hotels in 110 cities in 23 countries and I’m told will soon launch in the U.S.
This is starting to get interesting.