Priceline acquires PriceMatch, adds revenue management to hotel tech arsenal [UPDATED]

UPDATE:

We have now learned that PriceMatch did not take the $9 million funding round in February this year, despite claims to the contrary.

PriceMatch, when asked about a potential Priceline Group acquisition in March, said it was not willing to sell the company and had in fact raised the sum mentioned in earlier reports.

The reality was that Priceline Group’s deal was one of a number of options on the table, but the France-based revenue management service did not take the investment and chose to sell.

ORIGINAL:

The Priceline Group has bolstered its new industry-facing focus in hospitality with a move to buy hotel revenue management provider PriceMatch.

Multiple sources had disclosed this week to Tnooz that the France-headquartered company will shortly be part of the Priceline Group, becoming another cog in the wheel of the company’s drive to help hoteliers with their technology, marketing and distibution.

The deal was confirmed by the pair this morning.

It is unknown how much PriceMatch has gone for, but the company had previously raised $9 million just three months ago and had captured $1.1 million in November 2013.

CEO and co-founder Arthur Waller had ruled any interest in the company by other parties in March this year, and that it was also not willing to sell.

PriceMatch will now become part of BookingSuite, the division in the Priceline Group created over the course of the past 12 months to complement its already huge consumer-facing business.

It will join the company’s other recent acquisitions, Buuteeq (for marketing and design services) and Hotel Ninjas (reservations and distribution), both of which were bought for undisclosed fees during 2014.

BookingSuite director Rob Ransom:

“We are always looking for new ways to leverage data and technology to help our hotel partners be more successful in an increasingly digitally-driven world.

“With the addition of PriceMatch, BookingSuite partners will be able to access a powerful set of business intelligence tools to help them optimize performance through a platform that’s easy to use and manage.”

PriceMatch had recently been on the acquisition trail itself when it bought fellow revenue management software company PowerYourRoom in December 2014, also for an undisclosed fee.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

Comments

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  1. Danny Bitoni

    The missing piece is now the channel manager. Let me guess… HotelRunner? SiteMinder? or Travelclick?

     
    • Ralph

      Pricematch could actually act as the channel manager itself with a bit of development. They already have the functionality of a rate push sorted. Getting an inventory and availability push enabled shouldn’t be too hard.

       
      • Danny Bitoni

        Channel management is a complex business. it requires extensive integration and enterprise service bus capabilities with SLA’s. So, as a techy hotelier who tried Pricematch for a while, my answer is a No. Their tech is purely based on manual work and screenscrapping.

         
        • Julian Parkins

          That is correct. Pricematch is integrated with PMS systems. Many of these integrations and their rate push functionalities are manual, 3rd party and hacker-style. And the channel manager integration is just an iframe in the app.

           
  2. Antonio Anguiano

    This is obviously a great move for Priceline, but wasn’t it quite early for PriceMatch to be sold?

    We all witness the fast-grow and success of PriceMatch, a successful SAAS with a simple setup, great connectivity, an aggressive price model and a extremely user-friendly interface (even people with no RM experience use it correctly). Perhaps the young mathematicians did not realize they were sitting in a gold mine and got seduced by the sexy deal offered by Priceline.

    But what would Priceline do with such a small and talented company?
    Are they going to develop it? or are they anticipating a world with no rate parity where they will have to integrate RM intelligence to their platforms in order to efficiently control demand, price and margins?

     
  3. Adriaan Kleingeld

    I agree with Mike. Having myself been one of the original shareholders at PowerYourRoom Ltd. as well as owning the software development company that built the solutions that powered both PriceYourRoom and CompareYourRoom, this is great news. I also agree that what often happens…one venture capital based company is swallowed by another….and another. This means the agility which was so exciting about the venture in the beginning just get’s lost. In the case of PriceLine…it’s even better, they effectively (PriceMatch) loose the appeal to many of the Hotels they were originally so appealing to, because of the booking.com connection. At the moment, all the revenue management tools are looking for a bigger mix of crucial data to let their algo’s loose on. Perhaps the most exciting one of these at the moment is Vassilis Syropoulos’s Juyo Analytics….Different to all it’s competitors Juyo can deal with any data available in the market, provides a BI Dashboard second to none, and then actually has it’s own built in RMS functionality, I think the one to watch at the moment!

     
  4. Mike Ford

    Priceline’s acquisitions in this space have left a large technology void for the many thousands of hotels that wont want to hand their business to the OTA’s to completely control, and that dont want to waste their money paying commissions to the OTA’s for business they would get to their own website anyway. Thats good news for the other disruptive, quality tech providers in the space who offer great alternatives, are independent of OTA’s and have more attractive pricing models that allow hotels to decrease their cost of guest acquisition rather than increasing it.

     
  5. RobertKCole

    Another very smart move by Priceline. Not only does this add an important component to its SaaS Hotel platform, but even though most hoteliers will hate to admit it, Priceline is starting to solve a lot of pain points…

    First, the business model works. Sorry, hoteliers may complain about commission rates, but hotels LOVE paying on a consumed business basis for several reasons, mostly because it dramatically reduces risk. Under a commission model, no budget allocations are involved; once the deal is struck, the rest simply happens. I’ve seen hotels with amazing ROIs on PPC campaigns unable to expand or extend them because additional budget cannot be approved or reallocated from another budgetary line item. Hotels are a highly fragmented business – often with owners, management companies and brands having conflicting financial objectives – budget approvals are not easy and often require political capital to be won.

    Second, a SaaS platform eliminates not only the risk of having to pay for technology in advance and hope it generates the projected return, but it facilitates continual enhancements, compared to legacy platforms where vendors have a tendency to nickel & dime clients for any updates to mature product lines.

    Third, hotels frequently strive for a single image of rates and inventory. Well, at least for Priceline Group, if they are also powering the hotel’s website, they achieve a single image of the inventory & pricing.

    Fourth, the ability to package car, air and even restaurant reservations through OpenTable presents some significant opportunities to grow share of wallet – a big revenue/margin opportunity that also improves the guest value proposition.

    The fifth factor is most critical – business intelligence – and this is where PriceMatch fits into the mix. Leveraging the data captured from traffic spanning the various business verticals and transaction models of Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak, RentalCars.com, OpenTable, and other BookingSuite properties, the revenue management capabilities offered by PriceMatch can start tying into some serious Big Data signals associated with travel-related search traffic, purchase trends (for various price points, stay patterns, locations, segments, geographies and seasons.)

    I foresee more SaaS acquisitions enhancing BookingSuite – their business strategy is all about value creation, elimination of pain points and risk reduction – all logical sales points from an owner’s perspective. Since Priceline incurs very low overheads due to its cloud-based platform, their margins will be solid. This results in a fairly compelling argument for potential disruption.

    The traditional four-stage process traditionally employed by the hotel industry when dealing with disruption (see OTAs, Airbnb, etc.) is 1) Ignore, 2) Ignore, 3) Panic, 4) Resigned Acceptance. At this point, I see the introduction of BookingSuite as falling somewhere between stages 1 & 2…

    Hoteliers, and particularly the hotel brands would be ill advised to ignore Priceline’s encroachment into their traditional territories. In 2014, Priceline’s free cash flow was 2.78B. As a point of reference, Hilton’s was $1.08B, Marriott 813M, Starwood 698M, and IHG 278M. Priceline’s was just shy of the four hotel groups combined… In the interest of not depressing the hoteliers, I won’t cite website or app traffic.

    It’s time for the hotel industry to set aside its emotions and get down to business – because that’s what Priceline is doing. If the hotel industry can’t fix its own pain points, Priceline will happily do it, and profit handsomely in the process.

     
    • Sean O'Neill

      Sean O'Neill

      Thanks for the insightful comment, Robert!

       
    • G

      Great analysis

       
    • Gavin Pereira

      Very good analysis from Robert, spot on. We are now reaching an era where the fundamental way we think of a hotel is changing – mostly for better. A lot of things are outsourced these days – why you ask – to drive down costs and drive up efficiencies which has been happening in many other industries. Look at most 3-5 star hotels in the UK, housekeeping is outsourced, sales – for the most part – its pointless having many sales managers chasing accounts who will only return a poor ROI – most direct bookers want rates lower that what they are without commission so the whole point of paying a staff member £40k a year to chase business which is lower than the net gained from commissionable channels is pointless – many are realising this, building a solid website, seo, ppc and maintaining it is again a costly affair with not much guaranteed ROI – vendors will tell you that you will get lots of direct bookings but they will not guarantee anything and will be happy to bid you goodbye once their invoice is paid for. Also for the most part – most consumers thanks to the internet revolution – private, corporate and government want to shop around before they sign a deal, its better to have a wide sales network than have a few of your sales managers or head office sales team chase down business – with no guaranteed return – you may spend but not necessarily get the results – therefore the rationale to operate a very lean sales team (if any) is very high (depending on the number of hotels/ rooms). I am starting to see hotels (without taking names) operating on very lean staff levels and achieve great profitability purely down to sensible wide distribution with online and offline agents, high rates but also high levels of service – which is achieved by having a few dedicated service super stars who focus on client stays and not saving commission or bartering with customers. With good service and wide distribution its realistic to drive rates up. Example you have a room at £400 per night, but only distribute it on B.com E.com and your own website because you do not want to pay other agents commission, chances are “your product offer is only seen and offered to X amount of eye balls – lets say 3 people per hour. However when this distribution network is wider – say a massive mix of offline and online agents (who are purely on commission ) chances are 30 people per hour are looking at your product – which means there is a much greater scope for conversion and now you do not need to panic and drop your rates or pander to the direct booker who wants “big discounts” for his direct business.

       
  6. Delfo

    These guys were recently talking about applying RM to the commissions on hotel bookings. This could be the reason why priceline picked them up and makes sense now that rate parity could be going out of the door…

     
  7. Roger Smith

    Small acquisition.

     
  8. P. Jason King

    It proves the statement “all the money in the world does not make you #1”

     
  9. Patrick Landman

    Patrick Landman

    Penetrating hotels further and further …. smart strategy. Respect.

    Question remains would you like the biggest travel agency to also control the strategis of your hotel …

    Personally I would not …

     
    • claude

      This is the begining of the end for Booking?

      I mean, many hoteliers are aware today about tech and marketing. And will not accept this kind of behavior from their main distributor / competitor / provider / etc .

       
    • Adriaan Kleingeld

      simple….most hotels no….

       
 
 

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