Priceline buys Lowestfare site

The Internet travel site is acquiring the trademark and URL of the popular online airfare destination.

2 min read
Priceline has bought the trademarks and URL of struggling travel company Lowestfare.com, the name-your-own-price travel site announced on Wednesday.

Priceline has already added its travel search engine to Lowestfare.com. Meanwhile, Lowestfare.com, the company, has changed its name to Maupintour Holding and has moved the sale of travel products such as tour packages to its Maupintour.com site. Both Priceline and Maupintour declined to give details on the deal.

Lowestfare.com was one of the most frequently visited online travel sites, drawing more than 600,000 unique visitors in March, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. But the site has fallen on hard times in recent months.

Owned by financier Carl Icahn, Lowestfare.com got its start by selling the highly discounted tickets Icahn got in a deal with Trans World Airlines (TWA). But American Airlines voided that deal after purchasing TWA last year.

Without access to the cheap airfares, Lowestfare stopped selling airline tickets last month. Days later, the company shut down its airfare consolidator division, Jet Set Tours, which sold airline tickets primarily to traditional travel agents.

Manitour CEO Gail Golden said the sale of Lowestfare.com's URL and trademarks was related to company's decision to exit the market for airline tickets, but she declined to comment further.

Priceline's move to put its travel engine on Lowestfare.com is only the latest deal by the company to promote itself through other Web sites. On Tuesday, the company announced a deal with LastMinuteTravel, through which Priceline's inventory of travel products will be available. Within the last six months, Priceline has also signed marketing deals with AOL and eBay, with which it has created a co-branded travel site.

While Priceline was once known for its TV and radio advertisements starring William "Captain Kirk" Shatner, the company is increasingly focused on marketing its services online, Priceline spokesman Brian Ek said.

"We've found that online partnerships deliver some of the best value out there and some of the lowest cost per travel product sold," he said.