CEO Glenn Fogel is focused on making Booking Holdings apps easier for consumers to use. He’s obviously doing something right.
The post-pandemic consumer travel problem is still alive and well, leading to the highest quarterly revenue ever for Booking Holdings.
And more of those bookings at the online travel giant are made through Booking’s mobile apps than before the pandemic, so the company plans to boost its investment in that technology to capture as many future bookings as possible.
Executives shared some of their plans during an earnings call Wednesday night for Booking Holdings, which owns brands Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, Kayak and others.
Revenue for Booking Holdings last quarter was $6.1 billion, up 29 percent year over year, while net income rose 117 percent to $1.7 billion.
“While there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the near-term macroeconomic environment, we are as confident as ever about the long-term growth of travel and the opportunities for our company,” said Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking, during the call. .
There were 240 million room nights booked through Booking apps in the third quarter of 2022 — 8% higher than in 2019 — and 45% of those were made through the mobile app.
“The mobile app is an important platform as it gives us more opportunities to interact directly with travelers and ultimately we see it as the center of our connected travel vision,” said Fogel.
“Connected travel” is Booking’s aim to effectively cross-sell and upsell a wider variety of packages to existing customers through its multiple products. Executives have said they believe this is key to continuing the post-pandemic recovery.
The ongoing technology investment includes strengthening the airline booking offering on Booking.com. This business grew by 235 percent in the third quarter compared to 2019. More than 20 percent of all flight bookings are by first-time Booking.com customers. The company also continues to work on integrating ground transportation options.
Fogel said transportation options aren’t where he wants them yet, but he’s optimistic.
“Our flight product is still not what I would say is as good as it should be,” he said. “We’re continuing to improve it, making it better than it was in the past, providing the capabilities that some of our competitors offer to consumers who aren’t yet doing what we want to offer. So there’s a lot of positives left in it.”
The 4th quarter
Some analysts have expressed concern about how a possible economic downturn could affect the business, but Booking executives expect the business to continue to outperform in 2019.
“While there continues to be uncertainty in the near term, our comments for the quarter assume that room night growth for the fourth quarter will be approximately 10 percent above 2019, which is in line with the levels of growth we have seen in over the past three months,” David Goulden, CFO of Booking, said during the call.
Despite higher booking prices overall, Booking hasn’t seen customers booking cheaper hotels or shortening their trips, Fogel said. But as Booking seeks to grow its business after the pandemic, it said it sees value in keeping prices as low as possible.
“When we think about addressing our customers’ need for value, we believe that providing attractive prices on accommodations is very important,” said Fogel.