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Booking Holdings Sees Modest ‘Connected Trip’ Gains

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Skift Take

There’s a newish metric for Booking.com, namely “connected transactions.” Given the state of competition and other obstacles, the so-called connected trip is light years away.

Booking Holdings has been engaged in building a “connected trip” — where travelers might book a flight accommodation and attraction on Booking.com — over the past few years.

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It’s been slow to get traction: More than 90% of travelers using Booking Holdings platforms book solely an accommodation, flight, car rental or attraction, and then they head elsewhere.

But in Booking Holdings’ first-quarter earnings call Thursday, officials reported progress in “connected transactions,” however modest.

“I’m encouraged to see strong growth in transactions that are connected to another booking from a different travel vertical in a trip,” CEO Glenn Fogel told analysts. “These connected transactions increased by just over 50% year-over-year in the first quarter. Though it’s important to note that this growth is off of last year’s small base. Connected transactions represented a high single-digit percentage of Booking.com’s total transactions in q1.”

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Fogel added that the company is seeing strong growth in attractions and rental cars as part of connected transactions.

Components of the Connected Trip

Officials pointed to various key components of the strategy: Its Genius loyalty program, the move to attract direct bookings, AI trip planners, making payments easier, and its tours and activities business.

Still, the connected trip won’t become reality in the next few years – if it ever does.

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For example, Booking.com sources most of its tours and activities from third parties such as Viator, Klook and Musement. Fogel acknowledged that building that part of the business isn’t a priority at the moment.

Building the company’s flights business, which saw bookings jump 33% in the first quarter, is an immediate priority.

The company is working on other aspects of the connected trip. Its Genius discount program currently only provides deals for accommodations, and the company said Thursday it is testing offering Genius rewards for flights and attractions, as well.

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Direct bookings, where travelers come directly to Booking.com or its apps without the company having to pay Google to induce a visit, are moving in the right direction, as is its short-term rental business in the U.S.

“We are encouraged by the continued progress we are making in strengthening the direct relationships with our our travelers,” said Chief Financial Officer Ewout Steenbergen. “Over the last four quarters, the mix of total room nights coming to us through the direct channel was in the mid-50% range. And when we exclude our B2B business, it was in the low 60% range. We have seen both these mixes increase year-over-year in each of those four quarters.”

The Financials

Booking Holdings had a strong first quarter.

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The company saw its net income in the first quarter jump 192% to $776 million on revenue of $4.4 billion, a 17% increase.

Booking Holdings beat consensus estimates on both revenue and earnings per share.

Room nights booked climbed a modest 9% year over year in the first quarter, which is traditionally the company’s weakest.

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