While one U.S. administration is getting ready to pack up things in the White House and Trump or Clinton hope to redecorate the place on their own, it could be an opportune time to sneak a Priceline-TripAdvisor or Google-TripAdvisor marriage past those sometimes-pesky antitrust regulators.
You would think hoteliers would have learned a few things from their foray with Travelweb in the early 2000s but, as Room Key shows, they obviously did not.
Upside has the potential to upend how businesses book unmanaged travel. But only time will tell how business travelers will react to an app offering a $100 Amazon gift card to delay their arrival home after a long trip.
Does a dramatic reduction in outbound traffic from online travel agency sites mean they are getting stickier or are they perhaps consciously retaliating against hotel-chain websites for direct-booking campaigns? Or is something else up?
Buying TripAdvisor would be a very large -- albeit relatively cheap -- acquisition given its current stock price. One very significant impediment, especially for Priceline, is the fact that Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, which has historic ties to Barry Diller's Expedia, controls TripAdvisor. Still, for the right price, Liberty would have to consider a sale of its prized asset as TripAdvisor goes through a very challenging and prolonged transition.
With Airbnb apparently adversely impacting hotels much more than online travel agencies, Hotwire is poised to make some gains as hotels try to fill rooms. But Hotwire also has to fend off Priceline.com, which is emphasizing Express Deals that basically use the same model as Hotwire.
Skift reported on March 29, 2016 that a Priceline Group acquisition of TripAdvisor, which is seeking to get traction for its Instant Booking product internationally, would make a lot of sense for numerous reasons. If it happens it sure would come at an awkward time for the Priceline Group, which is in the midst of a search for a permanent CEO.
Brett Keller, Priceline.com's new interim CEO, knows his way around headquarters, having worked there for 17 years. He takes over at a critical time for the Priceline.com brand, although Booking.com is by far the Priceline Group's most important cog.
Booking.com rode the agency model, which is attractive for its lack of complexity in forging online travel agency-hotel relationships and consumer-friendliness, into the growth engine of a $68 billion business. Its executives did so by ignoring the trendiness of the crowds and sticking to their own beliefs and vision.
European tax authorities, in this case from France and Italy, continue to go after online travel agencies like Booking.com for back taxes. Booking.com is such a large company that a $400 million bill, if it actually must be paid, won't cause the company to sweat excessively.