Google Aims to Up Its Travel-Booking Game With the Help of This Startup
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has entered a licensing deal with startup Room 77, which makes hotel-booking software; the deal will give Google (and Google smartphones) access to the startup’s mobile and Web-based hotel search and booking technology. In addition, Room 77′s chief technology officer, Calvin Yang, as well as many of the startup’s engineers, will be joining Google’s staff, though the company will continue to maintain its “brand, websites, mobile applications, patents,” and other technology, Bloomberg reports.
Room 77 spokeswoman Dawn Lyon and Google spokesman Tim Drinan both confirmed the deal to the news service.
Room 77 has hotel search available on both the Web and through mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, through an app. The company’s search is unique in that it’s incredibly streamlined — a customer can book a hotel room without ever leaving the company’s website or its mobile app, a feature which is particularly attractive to smartphone users.
Google’s current hotel tools, including Hotel Finder and Google Wallet, are already similar to Room 77′s, but sources told The Wall Street Journal that Room 77′s tools are “further along” than Google’s: “There’s a lot of stuff that Room 77 has worked on, some launched, some not launched, that Google believes will improve the quality of its hotel search.”
Hotel search is currently one of Google’s most profitable advertising enterprises, the Journal reports, and the recent licensing deal with Room 77 is just one of a number of different moves by the search-engine giant to add more hotel-related content to its search results. In 2011, the company spent around $700 million to buy ITA Software, a flight information provider, according to Bloomberg.
Google is hoping that the licensing deal will help a hotel search through Google’s search engine look more like that of travel websites such as Priceline, Expedia, and TripAdvisor.
Room 77 was founded in 2010 by technology investor Brad Gerstner. At that time, the startup raised $43 million from individuals and venture capital firms, including Sutter Hill Ventures and General Catalyst Partners, as well as rival travel site Expedia.