Webjet have announced the anticipated launch of lotsofhotels. I have already commented on the "new" nature of the site and the false starts with URLs but I think a separate brand name is a good move for them so long as it does not distract from improving cross sales and package sales on the webjet site. The main aim of a seller of domestic flights online should be to cross sell as much hotel inventory as possible. A hotel only site can be complementary to this strategy as you can try and pick up those customers that you lost on the flight sale or travel by car etc but it cannot replace this strategy. The big challenge in having a two brand strategy with both selling hotels is to make sure that there is something different in the product strategy. Customers will pick up very quickly - as they did with Expedia and Hotels.com - when it is simply the same inventory and pricing but in two different colours.
David says the site will "initially feature around 22,000 properties before expanding to approximately 60,000". 22,000 is a familiar number - sounds a lot like the HotelClub numbers. That's because it is - the launch version of lotsofhotels.com appears to be a white-label affiliate deal with HotelClub. So while I applaud David on the launch, much like GoStay using needitnow/AOT inventory, he will need to develop his own inventory and ensure a differentiation with Webjet - then the hard job of taking on the big guys (Wotif, Lastminute.com and RatesToGo/HotelClub) in marketing. He has the money for it so we have to give them a chance.
UPDATE - confirmation here of the Travelport/HotelClub connection in this deal
UPDATE 2 - thanks to Ciprian who points out that there is also inventory from HotelClub's FlairviewTravel stable-mate RatesToGo