Fairfax-owned New Zealand e-commerce giant Trade Me today announced that it has bought Holiday Houses, an online accommodation booking site.
Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald would not disclose how much was paid for Holiday Houses, which was set up in 2000 by Bill and Julie Stalker and has now over 5,300 listings for holiday homes, beach houses and other types of accommodation.
The transaction was done with Trade Me acquiring all of Red Rock Ltd, the company that owns the business interests of the Holiday Houses site. Macdonald said Holiday Houses would be kept separate from its existing Travelbug site that focuses on motels and hotel. Founder Bill Stalker will stay with Holiday Houses and continue being involved in the daily management of the site.
There will, however, be some work on enhancing the user interface of Holiday Houses, Macdonald said, without revealing specifics, and new functionality added to the site. "Holiday Houses reminds me of Trade Me in many ways," Macdonald says, referring to what he calls the "grassroots person-to-person" mode of operation for the acquired site.
While Trade Me has become very dominant in New Zealand's general classifieds, property, cars and jobs sectors, according to Macdonald, it's not in a similar position in the accommodation bookings market.
"Our competitors are very competent," Macdonald said, and adds that barriers to entry in the accommodation booking market are low, meaning Trade Me has to do as good a job as it can to make headway in the market.
For those reasons, Macdonald believes that Trade Me isn't running the risk of tickling the New Zealand competition regulator, the Commerce Commission's interest as it might be deemed as being too dominant in too many market sectors.