Ebookers builds on strong start to the year

European OTA ebookers recorded a 58% increase in stayed room nights during the second quarter of 2010, continuing its strong run of results.

Parent company Orbitz Worldwide released its second quarter earnings this week.

Chief finance officer Marsha Wiliams said that ebookers would be a positive contributor to adjusted EBITDA for the full year, and that “the numbers coming in are stronger than anticipated”.

Ebookers also increased the number of transactions handled by 28%, with chief executive Barney Harford noting strong growth in air and packages as well as the lift in room nights.

He added that the impact of the ash crisis “was less than we expected” and that the economic worries in Greece, Italy and Spain had little impact on ebookers main source markets which are in northern rather than southern Europe.

When asked for a comparison between ebookers and booking.com, Harford pointed out that ebookers is a full service OTA while booking.com is accommodation only, “so they are not directly comparable”.

HotelClub is Orbitz’ international hotel-only product, and its performance continues to be “soft”.

Harford admitted that HotelClub’s search engine optimisation and search engine marketing approach “was several years out of date in terms of best practice” and that this area is a key focus for the new management and tech teams recently appointed.

Ebookers is expected to continue to improve “as more of the US business comes onto the global platform [and we can]open up some of the test-led optimization that we are doing.”

He went onto explain the thinking behind having all its brands on the same platform: “We think that how customers plan and book travel  travel online is quite similar across most geographies.

“Our goal is to get all the OTAs businesses onto the same platform, while leveraging the data and personalisation capabilities to reflect the individual characters of folks from Scandinavia versus  Benelux versus the UK,” he said.

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