Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Booking.com to expand offerings, adding vacation rental and more flight options

Booking.com is expanding its portfolio to include vacation rental properties, an intentional move for a brand that is delving further into the alternative accommodation space, said a report in PhocusWire.com.

“We’re incorporating our alternative accommodation offerings in some of our recent brand advertising to help raise customer awareness of this product,” particularly in the United States, Booking Holdings CEO and president Glenn Fogel said during the company’s quarterly earnings call, in which he discussed the company’s fourth quarter and full-year 2022 financial results. Booking Holdings’ brands include Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak, Rentalcars.com and OpenTable.

Alternative accommodation room nights last year grew about 56 per cent from 2021 and 11 per cent from 2019, and they accounted for about 30 per cent of Booking.com’s total room nights for the year, according to Fogel.

The company launched partner liability insurance and piloted request-to-book functionality, which allows the host to accept a reservation request and is “an important feature for some individual partners,” Fogel says. As a result, Booking.com saw better retention rates and other improvements across “a full spectrum of property types.”

Booking Holdings spent $6 billion on marketing last year, up from $3.8 billion in 2021.

“We’re leaning in more relative to marketing and merchandising than we did in 2019. That’s very conscious to continue to gain share in the recovering market,” Booking Holdings CFO David Goulden says.

In recent years, the company has also expanded into travel verticals other than accommodations “with a focus on flights,” Fogel says, and in the future it will link the travel components together “to provide a more seamless and flexible travel experience.” Flight booking, which launched as an integrated product in 2019, is now available in more than 50 countries, and more than 20 per cent of customers that book flights globally are new to Booking.com, Fogel says.

“This flight offering gives us the ability to help our consumers book another important component of their travel in one place on our platform and allows us to engage with potential customers who choose their flight options early in their travel discovery process,” he says.

“We will continue this important work to provide our customers the best possible trip experience we can offer.”

The company is also enhancing the benefits of its Genius loyalty program and continues to improve its mobile apps, according to Fogel. About 45 per cent of room nights in 2022 were booked in the company’s apps, up 13 percentage points from 2019.

“The mobile app is an important platform, because it allows us more opportunities to engage directly with travelers, and, ultimately, we see it as the center of our connected trip vision,” he says.

Booking.com’s mobile app advanced one spot – to fifth place – on a list of 2022’s most downloaded travel apps in the U.S. compared with its position in 2021, according to recent data from Apptopia. Booking.com was the third-most downloaded app worldwide.

Fogel says he expects generative AI, such as ChatGPT, to eventually improve travel search, because it has already helped the company improve products and work better with partners.

Fourth-quarter gross travel bookings for Booking Holdings reached $27.3 billion, up 44 per cent from the same quarter in 2021. Room nights booked in the last three months of 2022 increased 39 per cent from the same period in 2021.

Booking Holdings’ total revenues for the last quarter of 2022 were $4 billion, an increase of 36 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2021. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2022 was $1.2 billion, an increase of 100 per cent from the prior-year quarter. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was $1.2 billion, up 32 per cent from the same period in 2021.

For the full year, Booking Holdings had gross travel bookings of $121.3 billion, an increase of 58 per cent from 2021. Total revenues for the full year 2022 were $17.1 billion – the company’s highest level ever and an increase of 56 per cent from the prior year and 13 per cent higher than 2019. Net income for the full year 2022 was $3.1 billion, an increase of 162 per cent from the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2022 was $5.3 billion, an increase of 82 per cent from the prior year.

“Looking back at the full year of 2022, I am proud of our company’s performance during what was a challenging and competitive environment,” Fogel says.

“We are encouraged by the continued strength and resiliency of demand from travelers last year and into the new year, which we believe speaks to our consumers’ strong desire to use our platforms when booking their travel.”

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