Business


Priceline Group renamed itself to Booking Holdings Inc. on Wednesday to better reflect its growing portfolio of brands and highlight booking.com, the underlying driver of its business, according to CEO Glenn Fogel.

Fogel told CNBC that booking.com has more than 1.5 million properties and generates more than 1 million bookings per day. “It helps change the perception of what our overall company is … from Priceline to a much more global brand,” said Fogel.

While booking.com is well known in Europe and elsewhere, Fogel is betting that a change to the company’s parent name will increase its brand awareness in the U.S.

“We’re better known outside the U.S. than inside the U.S. By changing the parent name, we expect people in the U.S. will have better awareness of all the different things that what we do,” said Fogel.

Rebranding is also part of Fogel’s strategy to effectively market the company’s diverse offerings that go beyond hotel rooms.

“We want to have a name aligned with all the different things that we do. We are now doing things that enable people to book hotels, homes, apartments, rental cars, flights, dinner reservations. Booking Holdings unifies all of these different things,” Fogel said.

Booking Holdings currently has six brands: Booking.com, priceline.com, KAYAK, agoda.com, Rentalcars.com and OpenTable.

But why make the announcement now?

“We’ve been thinking about this for some time. It is a new year. I have been in the CEO position now for over a year. I felt like it was the right time to do it,” said Fogel.

The timing of the announcement comes as the broader online travel industry faces intense competition from Google, Airbnb and traditional hotel operators.

Google has been criticized for using its dominant position in the internet to advertise its travel services while undercutting online travel players. At the same time, hotels are attempting to lure travelers to book directly on their sites by unveiling more attractive deals and loyalty programs.

It seems to be working. Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt all posted higher bookings in the last quarter, despite higher room rates.

With competition on the rise, Booking Holdings, Expedia and TripAdvisor and others have been increasing their capital expenditure on marketing and advertising to differentiate their brands and expand their reach into new regions.

Increased costs, however, have weighed on profits, which in turn has contributed to the underperformance in online travel stocks.

Expedia earnings earlier this month missed analyst estimates by a wide margin, prompting the stock to fall 15 percent. On the earnings call, Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom said the year “did not end up as we had planned from a financial perspective.”

Investors are now awaiting fourth quarter results from Booking Holdings, which reports results next Tuesday, when it changes its stock symbol to BKNG.



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