Travel agents

Booking.com considers adding flights

Posted by Ian Taylor on
Booking.com considers adding flights

Online accommodation giant Booking.com is “looking at” adding flights to its site, says chief executive Gillian Tans.

Speaking at German travel trade show ITB in Berlin, Tans said: “One third of our customers think about [booking] their flights before accommodation, one third during [the process of choosing accommodation] and one third after booking accommodation.”

Asked whether Booking.com would add airline ticketing to its site, Tans said: “We are looking at that. We will change if we see customers want booking.com to help with this.

“If we see customers don’t want to do [flight booking] with booking.com, we won’t do it.”

Tans explained: “Everything on our website is tested. We create two variants of everything and see which one customers prefer.”

She said the site carries out more than 1,000 experiments with variants each day, saying. “It’s extreme sometimes.”

Tans added: “Every booking is touched by machine learning and in a few years 50% of bookings will touch AI [artificial intelligence].”

Booking.com is also testing and adding different payment options, but Tans ruled out accepting cryptocurrency Bitcoin. She said: “We invest a lot in payments to make them easier, but we don’t do anything in Bitcoin. I don’t know that Bitcoin will become anything.”

The OTA is part of the group formerly known as Priceline which rebranded as Booking Holdings in February to reflect the importance of its Amsterdam-based accommodation site.

Booking.com accounts for 80% of the group’s annual revenue despite Priceline remaining among the biggest OTAs in the US. Priceline acquired Booking.com in 2005 for $133 million.

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