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Deal with SkyMall boosts Hilton shares

Shares of Hilton Hotels rise today after the company announces an e-commerce strategy and a partnership with the Phoenix-based firm.

Although most e-tail stocks have been grounded in recent months, shares of Hilton Hotels got a lift today after the company announced an e-commerce strategy.

Hilton is teaming up with SkyMall, a Phoenix-based firm best known for its catalogs found in the seats of passenger airlines, to develop a cobranded retail sales area on Hilton's corporate Web site.

Shares of Hilton jumped about 5.43 percent to close at $8.50. The stock has traded as high as $15 and as low as $6.38 during the past 52 weeks. SkyMall stock enjoyed a small boost earlier today but closed down about 4.76 percent at $2.5, equaling its 52-week low. The stock has traded as high as $14.19 during the same period.

In April, SkyMall laid off about 15 percent of its work force in an attempt to return to profitability after investing heavily in its Internet operations.

Last summer, SkyMall took off online by launching two sites, SkyMall and Skymalltravel, aimed at the business traveler. The move was considered late since several players, including Biztravel.com and American Express had already been targeting travel services for small businesses and corporations.

The online shop announced today is expected to begin selling merchandise in early June. Hilton and SkyMall describe the site as a "virtual mall" because customers will be able to buy goods from SkyMall's merchants.

Both companies said they plan to promote the e-shop program through newsletters and brochures, e-mails, and direct mail campaigns to their respective customers.

Under the same agreement, Durham & Company, a SkyMall subsidiary, will establish a separate Internet portal for meeting planners and businesses to purchase incentive awards and order corporate logo merchandise for the meetings and conventions held at Hiltons across the world.