Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Booking with the Beeb

LonelyPlanet.com has announced a new accommodation booking service in partnership with Expedia Distribution and hostelworld.com.

Travolution reported last week that BBC Worldwide paid c£90m cash for a 75% stake in LonelyPlanet late last year, with a view to exploiting the profit potential of the web site. The commercial terms of the deal with Expedia Distribution and hostelworld.com are not disclosed (‘twas ever thus) but it’s a start to monetizing a site which has 4.6m unique users.

Lonely Planet prides itself on the independence and quality of its advice by using a team of 360 professional writers to review hotels and hostels. But if the site is to become a profit centre in its own right there are many dangers to this independence. When deciding which hotels to review, will LP be more inclined to look at properties which it can sell? If ‘Martin’s B&B’ isn’t available through the partners, but ‘Kev’s B&B’ next door is, which one is the most likely to get a write-up on the site?

Martin Cowen, chief writer, Travolution

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