Friday, November 21, 2008

Priceline CEO Jeffery Boyd on PhoCusWright Center Stage

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Philip Wolf has just finished interviewing Priceline CEO Jeffery Boyd at PhoCusWright 2008.

Here is my summary.

On US v International
  • Already have more than 50% of business outside of US (see Expedia CEO's comments from yesterday). The international hotel business overtook US in terms of size at the end of 2006; and
  • International split is reflected in staff numbers with 1,600 total staff but only 340 in the US (but note another 6-700 more in outsourced US customer service).
On moving away from the opaque model and doing acquisitions in Europe
  • Was an easy decision to move away from the opaque model and air reliance as the business was shrinking. Now down to less than a third of the business being the merchant model and the largest part of that merchant model is hotel;
  • (not surprisingly) very happy with 2004 acquisition of Activehotels and 2005 acquistion of Bookings.com. There was some unhappiness at Active when the brand was dropped in favour of Booking.com but believes it was the right business decision. Boyd did not provide a direct answer to questions on whether he would expand the Booking brand to the US but did say "with a product in English and the strength of Google we can sell to anyone";
On Asia and Australia
  • (again) very happy with Agoda acquisition. It generated $30mm in gross bookings in Q3
  • Boyd was asked about the strength of Wotif in Australia. He reiterated that there is a lot of opportunity for more competition in Australia. Booking.com are opening an office in Australia with through "a person based in New Zealand" (I assume he means Agoda Chairman Adrian Currie Update - received a message from inside Priceline that Boyd was referring to someone else. Adrian Currie is based in NZ but is the Chairman of Agoda and head of Asia for Booking.com) .
On Mobile
  • In the US - about service and support, not transactions for now;
  • In the rest of the world - likely to be much faster to transactions on mobile; and
  • Generally -"have a mobile site that is caveman in its advancement but are focused on it".
On the Year ahead

Paraphrasing Boyd he said the following: There will be a shake out in the coming year. Companies that are well capitalised and watch expenses will do a little better. The industry survived and grew post 9/11 so we will get through this.

2 comments:

Yen said...

Given their successful M&A and execution in recent years, they are justified for their relative optimism.

Thanks for the summary, Jeff Boyd is one of the few speakers I usually make it to but I missed him this year.

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