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Auction House buys

Australia’s largest online auction house, GraysOnline, has announced it will enter the accommodation market as a major player with a new offer-based hotel reservation website after buying the portal.

To be unveiled in June, GraysOnline’s newly branded hotel booking site will allow the 1.1 million people who visit every month to purchase accommodation by making their best offer. The move is expected to reap huge benefits for’s customers, with a big increase expected in the number and range of properties prepared to receive offers from prospective guests.

GraysOnline CEO, Cameron Poolman, said the unique new booking website would help Australians and New Zealanders achieve significant savings on accommodation bookings and also help hoteliers use controlled discounting to fill rooms that would otherwise have gone empty.

“GraysOnline has been interested in expanding into the accommodation market for some time and our purchase of the innovative portal provides us with a platform from which we can launch into this sector,” Mr Poolman said. “Ubid’s business model is fully scalable and would suit most tourism product, both domestically and internationally.”

Launched in 2008 by experienced hotelier, Gary Berman, who will manage GraysOnline’s new travel division, the site currently features 1200 hotels, motels, apartments, holiday parks and B&Bs in Australia and NZ, including major hotel groups such as Rydges, Toga, Oaks, 8 Hotels, Best Western, Golden Chain, Chifley Hotels, Country Comfort, Choice Hotels and Leisure Inns.

“This is a solid base to build on and with Grays’ huge resources, customer base and trusted reputation, we can expand the exciting, new-look site rapidly to the mutual benefit of customers and hoteliers,” Mr Poolman said. “The growing success of Grays has been based on our ability to connect buyers and sellers online and that will underscore the way Ubid4rooms evolves into a mainstream way to buy accommodation.”

Based on Ubid’s model of a ‘a vacant room is revenue lost forever’, Grays’ new accommodation site will differ from GraysOnline’s auction model as it will allow customers to make offers directly to hotels, with no competitive bidding. The controlled discounting Grays will facilitate allows hotels to offer guests lower-than-advertised rates on a confidential, one-on-one basis without the agreed rates going public or affecting brand integrity. is a top 10 Australian retail website, auctioning and selling more than 200,000 consumer, industrial and commercial goods online every month, including TVs, cars, wine and furniture. The site attracts 1.1 million unique visitors a month, with a loyal customer base of 1.2 million members, more than 500,000 email subscribers and 19,000 new members every month.

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