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ITB Berlin Convention: Booking.com CEO presents the digital recipe for success for complex, dynamic travel markets

Darren Huston

Digitalization stands for rapid growth but without rushing. Above all this requires having the right staff and an agile structure. At least, this was how it was summed up by Darren Huston, President and CEO of The Priceline Group and Booking.com, speaking during the ITB Future Day at the ITB Berlin Convention. And he then added a few more ingredients to his recipe for success: anyone who neglects the mobile market and fails to develop value-enhancing apps is missing out in a big way. And the same applies to anyone who does not interconnect with partners and does not come up with a viable business model for their applications, especially if they try to tell customers how to use the web, rather than offering them a genuine experience.

Because only two per cent of hotel guests stay more than once in the same hotel it would not be economic for these establishments to go to the expense of operating direct booking portals. In view of the rapid pace of development, many vendors nowadays come to the logical conclusion of outsourcing to such technology experts as Booking.com: "The hotel industry is digitally under-supplied. We can change all this."

It would seem to be the case that, for some time now, the operators of portals no longer share customers only with the providers of services. In fact they are gaining an increasing share of the guests, because it would appear that people searching for travel services are developing a loyalty to the intermediary rather than the host. It remains to be seen how this situation develops for both parties. "We prefer genuine partnerships". is Huston's response.

After having already included private rooms and sharing arrangements, Huston now intends to list the holiday apartment sector on Booking.com. He is not worried about innovative competitors either: "At some point they will also want to earn money, and that is when the wheat will be separated from the chaff."

Isabel Bommer
 

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