Asia Web Direct President Neil Cumming, who sailed to Phuket after making his first fortune in Britain, has hit the jackpot for a second time by selling his online accommodation company to Wotif.com for A$34m in cash and shares.

Cumming also gets a seat on the Wotif.com board and – along with the present management team including CEO Jiarap (Sii) Easakul – will continue running Asia Web DIrect, which operates more than 100 websites.

Key online properties include LateStays.com, Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and SmartStays.com. The company, which employs 150 people, sold 450,000 room nights during 2007.

LateStays.com, which has a 28-day booking window, was the standout performer, increasing room nights by 89% from 53,585 to 92,920 year on year.

Asia Web Direct is known for its efficient technology, long-term supplier relationships and understanding of search engine marketing.

Crucially, it has direct agreements with 4000 properties in SE Asia, giving Wotif.com a significant regional footprint. Wotif.com says it sold 180,000 room nights in Asia last year.

Asia Web Direct was started by Cumming in 1993, five years after he landed in Phuket as part of a world cruise that followed the sale of a technology company he had major stake in.

TravelTrends.biz: February 5, 2008

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