Tablet Hotels Chief Executive Laurent Vernhes parlayed nearly a decade of business travel into an online travel venture that competes with bigger rivals such as Expedia and Travelocity by offering more in-depth services.

The six-year-old company recently launched its first book highlighting the newest hotels on its Web site in a series of four, teamed up with Apple iTunes to offer free online playlists for different hotels, and unveiled a fifth foreign-language version of its Web site, this one in Japanese.

Mr. Vernhes got firsthand knowledge of what travelers look for in a hotel thanks to his extensive travel experience: as a mergers and acquisitions executive for News Corp., he spent more than 120 days a year trekking around the world looking for takeover targets.

Tablet Hotels, which helps travelers scour more than 1,000 independent hotels worldwide, attracts 800,000 unique visitors every month, a figure that has risen an average of 10% each month since 2003. The company projects that it will take in more than $40 million in revenues from online bookings in 2006 -- double the figure from a year ago. It expects to repeat that growth rate next year.

The company, which is currently free from debt and is positive cash flow, will remain private for at least a few years, Mr. Vernhes says. He is focused on growing the company and has no intention of selling it or taking it public, which could hamper his ability to invest in long-term expansion.

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