October 31, 2006 5:34 AM PST

Travel site SideStep buys hotel blog start-up

Travel search site SideStep has acquired TravelPost.com, a start-up with user-generated hotel reviews and ratings.

With the acquisition, SideStep plans to extend TravelPost's blogging platform into areas beyond hotels, such as restaurants, SideStep CEO Rob Solomon said Monday.

"There is a wealth of potential content?in consumers' minds," he said. "If we can get them to share that content, it creates a better experience."

Santa Clara, Calif.-based SideStep offers price and availability information for flights, hotels and car rentals. San Mateo, Calif.-based TravelPost enables people to specify their age, gender, travel budget and purpose of their trip so that other people can see hotel reviews from people with similar demographics.

Solomon declined to specify the value of the cash-and-stock deal, which was completed Tuesday.

SideStep, which is seven years old, has about 5.3 million unique visitors each month during the summer. TravelPost, which is two years old, has about 700,000 unique users each month and more than 250,000 hotel reviews, the companies said.

While the sites will continue to operate independently, SideStep will bring TravelPost's employees into its offices. The combined company will have more than 70 employees. Within a year, the sites will have a shared user log-in and registration system, Solomon said.

The two companies have had a partnership for about a year.

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