Skift Take

The emotional button that trip-planning pushes the most in the post-pandemic era is anxiety. Booking Holdings is looking to assuage trip worries with products and services it is ramping up.

The world’s largest travel company Booking Holdings is using people’s anxieties about their trips as a lens through which it prioritizes the products and services it is refining and introducing, such as flight search and insurance or other paid guarantees to cover when things go wrong.

The company wants to make booking all of the components of a trip as low-stress and seamless as Uber has made booking a rideshare, said Glenn Fogel, president and CEO, on Tuesday at Skift Global Forum in New York.

“When I’m in an unfamiliar city, I want to get a notification from the Booking.com app letting me know about a museum or other experience nearby that I can press a button to book right there,” Fogel said, in conversation with Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Booking.com built its business from selling hotels first and foremost, so its flight search product is still a work in progress. Fogel joked that after the typical flight purchase experience anywhere online, travelers want to go to a bar before they do any further research for their trip.

“The first anxiety is, ‘Am I choosing the right place to go to?'” Fogel said, referring to accommodation choices.

Booking Holdings is developing more “fintech,” or financial technology products. These are upsells providing additional coverage in case of surprises.

Another area of development for the group is vacation homes and short-term rentals. While Booking.com was one of the first to list the product, Airbnb took it to much greater heights. Fogel said “about a third” of Booking.com’s business is alternative accommodations, but he wants to see the company have greater breadth and depth of coverage.

Airbnb hasn’t been spending as much on marketing as Booking Holdings. Is the traditional online marketing game broken? Fogel responded to this point by citing statistics showing that in the past couple of years, his company had produced much higher earnings than its online travel rival.

“If that’s broken, we should all be so broken,” Fogel quipped.

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Tags: booking.com, fogel, glenn fogel, online travel newsletter, sgf2022, skift global forum

Photo credit: Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel speaking at Skift Global Forum on September 20, 2022 in New York City. Neil van Niekerk / Skift