For Priceline, Booking.com, Agoda — it’s a sharing and marketshare thing
Priceline continued its torrid growth, particularly internationally, in the fourth quarter and increasingly is sharing hotel inventory across its brands.
Here’s the tale of the tape:
- Profits more than doubled — 130% actually — to $78.5 million.
- Gross bookings jumped 53% to $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter, and international revenue, fed by Agoda’s growth in markets like Thailand, for instance, climbed 74.9% to $222.9 million.
- In the U.S., domestic gross bookings rose 21% because of growth in hotel sales — both of the retail and merchant/opaque variety — as well as retail airline tickets and vacation packages. Sales of opaque airline tickets and rental cars were weak.
Priceline President and CEO Jeffery Boyd told analysts yesterday afternoon that the company has begun experimenting with showing Booking.com North American hotels to Priceline.com customers. Booking.com, he says, already is Priceline.com’s primary source of European hotels.
Booking.com’s hotel portfolio now includes 78,000 hotels dispersed across 76 countries.
In the future, Boyd expects the keyword market to heat up as “international hotels [are] getting more aggressive in competing for keywords” in the hopes of attracting direct sales.
However, Priceline’s companies may avoid that encumbrance to some extent.
He says: “But for small independent hotels that make up the majority of the international markets in which we do business, they just don’t have the resources and the expertise to aggressively market on a lot of different channels … ,” Boyd says. “[It’s] very hot for them to get distribution through affiliates, it’s very hard for them to do search marketing in multiple languages. So I think there’s a very significant limit to how aggressive they can be and trying to market directly in online channels.”
Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.