Cendant Corporation (NYSE:CD) today announced that it has acquired the common stock of Trip Network, Inc. (TNI) from an independent business trust. Terms were not disclosed and the amounts were not material to Cendant.Ê The acquisition is not expected to have a material impact on the Company`s earnings.ÊÊÊ This transaction reflects Cendant`s previously announced strategy to simplify its accounting through the acquisition of affiliated companies and to provide its investors with transparent financial information.Ê
TNI is the fourth largest full service online travel agent behind Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz. Trip Network was established in March 2001 and began operating CheapTickets.com and Trip.com in October 2001 through licensing agreements with Cendant following the Company`s acquisitions of Cheap Tickets, Inc. and Galileo International, which owned Trip.com. Ê
Effective immediately, Trip Network will become part of Cendant`s Travel Distribution Services Division and operate as part of its Retail Travel Services business unit, which also operates Lodging.com and Cendant Travel, a call center-based travel agency with six customer centers in the United States. The addition of Trip Network`s 170 employees, consisting primarily of technology and product development personnel based in Denver, will add capacity and thereby help to facilitate Cendant`s future online penetration in key corporate and leisure markets around the world.
“We are delighted to welcome the Trip Network team to Cendant,” said Sam E. Galeotos, president and chief executive officer of Galileo International and Cendant Travel Distribution Services.Ê “Cendant has assembled an impressive portfolio of travel distribution assets. The addition of Trip Network`s technology and its experienced team supports our efforts to grow our online business and strengthen Cendant`s position as one of the world`s leading providers of travel content and transaction processing services.”
As part of the integration, Cendant will position Cheap Tickets as its primary consumer brand and phase out the Trip.com brand from the leisure travel market.Ê However, the Company plans to maintain Cendant`s collection of travel related Web sites under the Trip Network umbrella.Ê Additionally, Trip.com`s booking engine will remain as the backbone of the Company`s third party, private label Web site strategy.Ê
“Despite the progress Trip.com made in the last year, it is simply not feasible to continue operating two separate brands, especially in the current geopolitical environment,” Galeotos said.Ê “Clearly, Cheap Tickets is the stronger consumer brand.Ê We believe we will be far more successful in putting Cendant`s resources behind our new Cheap Tickets Web site considering the investment needed to elevate Trip.com to Cheap Tickets` brand recognition and performance level.”
The Cheap Tickets Web site enjoys 80 percent awareness among surveyed online travelers and has a loyal value-minded customer base of more than 26 million registered users.Ê In November 2002, Cheap Tickets released a new version of its Web site, built on the Trip Network platform and utilizing the Galileo global distribution system.Ê Since that time, Cheap Tickets has been increasing visitor traffic, gross bookings and unique purchasers each month.Ê As evidence of Cheap Tickets` continued growth, the site`s monthly unique visitors were nearly six million in February 2003, up 123 percent year over year, which was nearly double the growth rate of its nearest competitor, according to comScore.Ê Gross bookings and transactions for the same period outpaced visitor growth, up approximately 200 percent and 240 percent, respectively.