Booking Holdings homes in on the long run

Booking Holdings‘ first quarter results include, as you’d expect, some pretty big numbers – such as gross bookings of $25 billion, nearly 200 million room nights booked, a 33% increase in net income to $607.2 million.

But on the earnings call with analysts, CEO Glenn Fogel was keen to point out that, in terms of its global market share, Booking Holdings was still relatively small.

He said:

“We believe that the travel market remains healthy and we continue to orient ourselves to the long run. We have a single-digit market share in the very large global accommodations market and an even lower market share in the total travel market.”

The synching of “the total travel market” with “the long run” into a single soundbite, which was part of Fogel’s prepared remarks,  paved the way for more hints about Booking Holding’s move into areas other than accommodation.

Or as Fogel described it, “a more complete and superior travel offering.”

Booking Holdings does sell some non-accommodation inventory which is often lost in the sheer scale of its room nights business. It sold 18.7 million car rental days and 1.8 million airline tickets between Jan and March this year. Its online restaurant reservations site OpenTable doesn’t get a lot of attention in the financials, but seats more than 24m diners a month.

Front of mind in terms of Booking Holdings’ move towards an (even) more complete travel offering is FareHarbor, if only because its deal to buy the tours and activities tech specialist only took place a few weeks ago.

Fogel explained on the call that “building sophisticated capabilities in local attractions and in destination experiences remains a long term goal for the company.”

So that’s a presence, of varying intensity, in accommodation, flights, cars, eating out and tours and activities.

In the Q&A with analysts as part of the call, he talked about some specific examples of how it is experimenting with new services. He mentioned flights on booking.com – a quick look at the site shows that this channel is powered by Kayak.

He also talked about a “new…exciting” package product on priceline.com, which seems to be powered internally.

And he could also have mentioned the package product on booking.com, which is powered by lastminute.com.

 

At the moment, these experiments remain under the radar. But, as he told analysts, “Experimentation’s what got us where we are now and it’s going to continue to get us to the future.”

Over time, experimentation will morph into implementation, although it looks as if Booking Holdings’ move into “providing a more holistic travel experience” has already begun.

Click here for the earnings release.

Click here for the earnings call webcast.

Photo by Antoine Schibler on Unsplash

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports. For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology. Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

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