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Booking.com targets China, U.S. growth: CEO

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - After its rapid ride to dominance in online travel in Europe over the past decade, Booking.com is seeking to expand in China and the U.S., its CEO said in an interview.

Darren Huston, who heads both Booking.com and its U.S. parent company Priceline Group, said Booking.com is targeting a 20 percent increase in bookings going through its website in the third quarter and still has years of growth ahead.

"Travel is growing at twice the rate of GDP. Do-it-yourself travel is growing faster than packaged travel. And online is growing faster than offline. So we've got three tail winds," Huston told Reuters from Booking.com's Amsterdam offices.

"If you can't grow double digits (in this industry) then you're not keeping up."

Priceline, once a dotcom wipeout, revived its fortunes in 2005 by buying Dutch online hotel reservation service Booking.com for $133 million.

The deal proved a masterstroke. By 2010, Priceline had eclipsed major rival Expedia, which is still larger in the United States, in global sales.

Today, Priceline's market capitalization of $66 billion is four times Expedia's.

Booking.com realized the potential that lay in Europe's fragmented market. Small hotels without the resources to build their own websites needed a way to be...


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