ONLINE booking site is to be rebranded and relaunched as a platform co-owned by hospitality operators.

The pioneering restaurant booking service, which was founded by Ronnie Somerville in Glasgow more than 20 years ago, will begin trading as Kooble from September, when the 5pm name will cease to operate.

He is aiming to shake up the online booking model by helping ensure restaurants, spas, hotels and other experience providers secure a greater share of commission.

It is hoped that unlocking revenue currently tied up in commission commanded by the likes of online travel agencies will help operators navigate the cost-of-doing business crisis which continues to challenge the hospitality industry.

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Moreover, Mr Somerville has set Kooble up as a non-profit co-operative with no external shareholders, allowing profits to be directed back to hospitality businesses through a dividend.

So far, more than 150 operators are said to have signalled their support for the venture, and more than 20 signed up.

Mr Somerville said: “I believe that a co-operative booking platform, owned by the industry itself is the solution the tourism and hospitality sector has been waiting for.

“My vision is to spearhead a Scotland-wide movement that fosters a sustainable and thriving hospitality industry, benefiting all stakeholders. With our proven platform, expert team, and over two decades of experience, we have the necessary tools to turn this vision into a resounding success that empowers everyone involved.

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“Aligned with the Scottish Government's Community Wealth Building Programme, Kooble exemplifies the principles of shared ownership, progressive procurement, and localised financial empowerment."

Mr Somerville added: “Looking to the future, we aim to expand the concept globally. We believe that a successful Kooble in Scotland will be the stepping stone to offering a multilingual and white label platform and playbook to other groups of hospitality businesses worldwide, who all have the same problem. Kooble turns the ambition of Scotland’s tourism strategy, Outlook 2030 into a reality, showcasing Scotland on the world stage as the leader in 21st century tourism.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: "Scotland's tourism strategy, Outlook 2030, aspires to position our nation as a global leader in 21st-century tourism. Kooble's inception embodies this ambition, presenting a sustainable and attractive hospitality industry that benefits all stakeholders and enables businesses to invest in their teams and offering which improves the quality and reputation of Scotland’s tourism product.

“With the raft of challenges faced by tourism and hospitality businesses in relation to the costs of doing business, the impact of the recruitment crisis and the current cost of living crisis, Kooble shines a light on the potential for a much brighter future for our industry.”