Online travel booker Expedia Inc. is improving its hotel reservation system through the acquisition of a Canadian software company.

Montreal-based Newtrade Technologies

Inc. has developed a Web services-style XML portal to integrate disparate booking systems. Through an acquisition announced Tuesday, its technology will allow Expedia to automatically reserve room nights by tapping directly into a hotel’s database. Most bookings are currently handled by fax or over the phone.

“”Basically we’re going to connect their 6,000-plus hotel partners (to) Expedia directly,”” said Benoit Jolin, president and CEO of Newtrade. The company’s connectivity software is built on J2EE (Java 2 Enteprise Edition) and uses an XML standard agreed upon by the Open Travel Alliance, a non-profit group of airlines, hoteliers and car rental companies that deal with e-business issues.

There are more than 40 systems on the market to connect hotels to their booking partners, said Jolin. “”The hotels use either one of these systems today. What we wanted to do was provide one common middleware to interact with any one of the property management systems and connect the (hotels) directly to their distribution channels.””

Nick Vesely, general manager of The Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Toronto, said he doesn’t see a lot of business from Expedia but “”we are very interested in these kinds of (technologies). We do a lot of these kinds of bookings right now.””

Newtrade will become a subsidiary of Expedia, but Expedia won’t be its only customer. Newtrade has existing relationships with dot-coms like, and global distribution systems (GDS) like Galileo International. (Galileo and other GDSes are transaction-based systems for booking airline tickets but which also handle hotel reservations.)

“”We’re able to take them under our wing — help them develop their technology and give them free rein to do so,”” said Andrea Riggs, a spokesperson with Expedia. “”We’re are not limiting where they can use their technology.””

Expedia looked at other software vendors before settling on Newtrade, but in some cases they lacked the financial resources, Riggs said. “”In other cases they may lack the support of the property management (companies) or the hotel reservation system vendors,”” she said. “”We felt that Newtrade came with the whole package — great relationships (with the hospitality industry) and a good head-start on the technology.””

There are no plans to move Newtrade to Expedia’s headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. The company will remain in Montreal, as will its 60-person workforce, said Jolin.

Expedia will begin rolling out the Newtrade software to its member hotels starting early next year. There’s no completion date in sight, but some hotels may opt to stick with their tried and true fax reservation system, said Riggs.

The price of the acquisition was undisclosed.


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