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Priceline’s Booking.com has mostly held back on TV advertising in the U.S. until right friggin’ — or as the commercial says — “until right booking now.”
Booking.com, with its industry-largest collection of more than 275,000 traditional hotels, apartment hotels and hostels in its portfolio, is in the “early days” of its first offline marketing campaign in the U.S., and it will be spread out over several quarters and include TV and cinema, Priceline CEO Jeffery Boyd said today.
Booking.com has offered hotels in the U.S. for European travelers for several years, and last month began the advertising campaign in the U.S.
The advertising onslaught — with the dollar size of the campaign not revealed — coincides with slight changes in Booking.com’s email marketing in the U.S., as well, where it is now touting the fact that it offers 302 places to stay in New York — “more than just hotels.”
Hostels, apartments and ryokans
The more than just hotels component includes displays of “hostels, apartments and aparthotels” in New York and “hotels, ryokans, resorts and aparthotels” in Atlantic City, for example, Booking.com states.
We’re not sure there are any ryokans — traditional Japanese inns — in Atlantic City so perhaps the marketing needs to be tweaked and localized a bit.
With the rise of HomeAway and Airbnb, some travelers in the U.S. have already been weaned a bit off traditional hotels, and now a higher U.S. profile for Booking.com, with its diverse mix of property types, may super-charge the trend.
To be sure, the vast majority of Booking.com’s lodging choices in the U.S. are traditional hotels. The nontraditional apartment hotels and hostels are in the distinct minority, and they have far fewer rooms than your local Marriott, as well.
Still, Boyd thinks adding them in the U.S. and abroad helps the consumer, and Booking.com, as well.
Speaking during Priceline’s fourth quarter earnings call February 26, Boyd said Priceline will continue to invest in adding nontraditional properties even though they offer fewer rooms and the addressable market is smaller than for hotels.
“We are going to keep at it,” Boyd said.
If other online travel agencies follow Booking.com’s lead — and they are copying everything else — in adding nontraditional properties, then that, coupled with the rise of the vacation rental and peer to peer apartment-rental market, could alter the lodging choices that consumers would normally consider in the future.
TripAdvisor’s big customer, Priceline
In other matters, Boyd noted that Priceline is a significant customer of TripAdvisor, and he guessed that TripAdvisor will not go overboard with its announced launch of hotel metasearch.
Despite TripAdvisor’s statements that it is altering its business model to integrate hotel metasearch, Boyd said TripAdvisor currently provides a distinct user experience, and he surmises that hotel metasearch will only become a piece of that unique experience going forward.
Speaking of metasearch, Boyd said Priceline is in the process of gaining approvals in Europe for its acquisition of Kayak, which will conduct a shareholder meeting to approve the deal in early March.
Name Your Own Price drop-off
Boyd also commented about the drop-off in Priceline’s signature Name Your Own Price bidding service in the U.S. He noted that the decline is being driven by competition from Expedia Unpublished Rate Hotels, daily deals sites, and Priceline’s new emphasis on Express Deals (with published rate disclosed and hotel identity hidden).
“We are happy witih the results we are seeing today,” Boyd said, referring to Express Deals.
Here’s one of the ad’s in Booking.com’s new ad campaign in the U.S.