Booking Holdings had said in May it would start charging hotels in the United States commission on their resort fees. But in July it postponed putting the policy in place. So the industry has questioned the company’s intention to change.
Yet Booking Holdings plans to make the policy happen because “it’s the right thing to do,” said Glenn Fogel, CEO and president of Booking Holdings at Skift Global Forum on Wednesday.
The move would likely be the first significant push by a major online travel agency to take a cut of the controversial resort fees.
Fogel said the issue stands apart from how the company is always negotiating with accommodation partners about commissions.
“This is about the fundamental fairness about how you treat a customer at a hotel,” Fogel said. “How many times have you shown up at a front desk and found that, Oh my God, there’s a $30 a day fee and you’re there for five days and it adds up to $150 in resort fees — and the place doesn’t even have a pool?” The comment drew a significant round of applause at Skift Global Forum.
Fogel elaborated at length on his view that it was a poor customer experience that needed to be discouraged. To be sure, Booking Holdings would likely also materially benefit from the commission on the fees when users book the rooms through its brands, such as Booking.com, Priceline, Agoda, and Kayak. Rival player Expedia Group has ruled out copying the policy.
In separate news, Fogel said that Booking Holdings is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward a Facebook-led plan for an independent entity to create a digital coin, Libra. If it materializes, users could send the alternative means of payment to each other or buy things on Facebook, Booking Holdings, or on other participating companies’ sites and apps.
Fogel justified his interest in the digital coin by saying that he saw any steps his company could take to reduce the friction of making payments worldwide, including in many places where credit card usage isn’t common, as a way to better serve more customers and boost revenue.
On a different front, Fogel had little to add on his decision to take on the role of Booking.com CEO in addition to heading up the parent company. Fogel said it made logical and intuitive sense for him to take on the added responsibility so that he could have an unmediated view of his group’s largest company.