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Web Reservations buys popular online travel site for €100m

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WRI chief executive Feargal Mooney: ‘sector competitive’

WRI chief executive Feargal Mooney: ‘sector competitive’

WRI chief executive Feargal Mooney: ‘sector competitive’

DUBLIN-based technology company Web Reservations International (WRI) has bought a UK web-travel agency in a deal worth €100m.

WRI is behind several well-known websites, including bedandbreakfastworld.com, hostelworld.com and hostels. com.

Newly acquired London-based HostelBookers.com has been operating for seven years and employs more than 100 people.

The all-paper deal between WRI and HostelBookers has to be signed off by regulators before it can be completed.

WRI chief executive Feargal Mooney said the deal will help the company compete against the major players in the online travel and accommodation market.

"The accommodation services sector is fiercely competitive. Indeed, the pace of change is such that the market today is unrecognisable from that which prevailed just 18 months ago," Mr Mooney said.

"To compete head-to-head with the 'big beasts', like Expedia and Booking.com, we need to invest.

"The capacity to inject more resources into online marketing and technology is absolutely key to this sector, and our increase in scale will enable us to ramp up that activity in the face of some very large and dominant competitors."

The deal will create a group valued at $500m (€382m).

WRI, which is majority owned by San Francisco private-equity firm Hellman and Friedman, provides online reservations to more than 35,000 properties in 180 countries from hostels to budget hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, campsites and holiday apartments.

Mr Mooney said the aim is to create a service that will rival online travel agencies.

"We want to provide a service that both competes head-to-head with the large online travel agents, and retains the personal service and sector knowledge that comes from being a smaller, budget-focused player – meeting the needs of hostels, B&Bs and smaller hotels, and providing enhanced service to our customers and partners," he said.

HostelBookers has more than 20,000 properties available in more than 3,500 locations worldwide.

WRI was founded by Thomas Kennedy and Ray Nolan in 1999.

Irish Independent