Priceline: bullish on China, going local is key
Online travel giant Priceline operates in 220 countries, but CEO Glenn Fogel is most bullish about one in particular: China. That’s why the company has almost 1,000 employees in the country, and has forged a collection of partnerships and investments that it hopes will see it rise to the top of the world’s biggest travel market.
Priceline operates through a number of brands online, such as booking.com, KAYAK, and OpenTable, and it is the world’s largest facilitator of online travel bookings. In 2016, gross bookings across its platforms came in at $68.1 billion. China is becoming a more and more important part of that total, as the company makes in-roads in the local travel scene, and outbound Chinese tourism continues to rise.
Priceline’s share price has risen by 28% year to date
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
Fogel explained some of Priceline’s approach to the country at a recent talk at the Skift Global Forum, where he told listeners: “If you want to be successful in China, you absolutely have to localize. Things are changing there so rapidly. Innovation is unbelievable. It’s really amazing that people here sometimes think, ‘Oh, China they’re catching up and copying what we do.’ They’re so wrong. China’s the cutting edge.”
One of the ways Priceline achieves that localization is by using Chinese social media to capture local travel. Fogel says: “In China, people are using WeChat all the time – to book hotels, restaurants. They’re trying new things all the time. We want to be a part of that.”
Fogel also said that, despite plans for Priceline’s existing brands, the company has “an acquisitive nature.” It has already invested $2 billion in Chinese travel giant Ctrip – and he says that a smaller competitor in the country could be in Priceline’s sights.
Dominion holds Priceline in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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