Expedia said Thursday that it will buy online booking rival Orbitz Worldwide for roughly $1.6 billion, cementing its place as the No. 1 digital travel provider while potentially disrupting the hotel and airline industries.
With the acquisition, the largest online travel agency in the U.S., will be incorporating the sector’s third-largest player.
Together, Expedia and Orbitz had 29.4 million unique visitors in the U.S. in December, according to comScore.
“We are attracted to the Orbitz Worldwide business because of its strong brands and impressive team,” Expedia president and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement. “This acquisition will allow us to deliver best-in-class experiences to an even wider set of travelers all over the world.”
Expedia, whose portfolio includes Hotwire.com, and Trivago, also recently acquired Travelocity, paying $280 million for the site last month.
Those purchases are heating up the race between Expedia and its number two rival, Priceline, which has been on its own buying spree, and veered beyond the travel space when it acquired restaurant reservations site OpenTable for $2.6 billion in June of 2014.
“It’s now Expedia vs. Priceline, head to head,” says Robert Cole, a travel industry analyst and consultant.