SideStep acquires TripUp for UGC

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Travel search√°engine SideStep Inc. has acquired TripUp Inc. in a deal that will couple TripUp's community and social network with SideStep's access to online travel information.

TripUp is popular for its user-generated travel blogs, photos, videos, maps and reviews. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SideStep has made a number of moves in user-generated content and social-networking arenas the past several months. It acquired TravelPost.com at the end of last year for its user-generated content and bought the new Trips application on Facebook as well as Extended Info's application technology.

"This site allows [trip planners] to connect with friends as well as other travelers within the network that may be going to the same place so that you never feel totally alone when you travel," said Rob Solomon, president/CEO of SideStep. "This site helps us appeal to the younger demographic that tends to adopt online technology quickly and passionately."

About 20 percent of adults are members of a social-networking Web site, and more than 60 percent of youths visit a social-networking site weekly, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

"It made sense for us to enter into this social-networking arena as we know that travel is a highly word-of-mouth type of activity," Solomon added. "With TripUp.com we tap into a younger demographic that is just starting out on their traveling adventures. We not only get to acquire the traffic from these sites but also the future potential growth that comes from joining the social-networking era."

SideStep suppliers will ultimately have access to broader demographics. They expect to see increased traffic to their sites as well.

"Social networking has taken hold more than anyone could have imagined," Solomon said. "It's common for someone to search for reviews of a hotel even before booking or to ask someone within your social network for advice before traveling.

"The travel industry still has a ways to go before fully taking advantage of this movement," he said. "And we're thrilled to be at the forefront, especially within the metasearch sector."

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