Priceline's Jeffery Boyd is bullish on the international potential of mobile platforms, saying it may turn out to be greater than the upside for the U.S. domestic market.
"... Over the intermediate time frame, they [mobile platforms] have the potential to become more important as a share of total e-commerce just because a higher percentage of consumers in the emerging markets are likely to have their primary interaction with the Internet over a mobile device versus a fixed desktop computer at their home or in the office," says Boyd, Priceline.com's president and CEO.
Boyd likes where things are going on the mobile front, pointing to Verizon's new iPhone, the growth of the Android platform and non-Apple manufacturers introducing tablets.
"So, just the significant growth in the number of devices online represents an opportunity for folks like us and for guys that can get good functionality out into the marketplace to participate," Boyd told analysts during the company's fourth quarter of 2010 earnings call Feb. 23.
Turning to the issue of the recent turmoil in the Middle East, Boyd said Priceline has seen a drop in reservations from countries experiencing unrest, but they are a small portion of Priceline's international business and disruptions are to be expected, whether they come from ash clouds or political instability.
Boyd also addressed the issue of cross-promotion among Priceline's various brands, including Priceline.com, Booking.com, Adoda.com and TravelJigsaw.
Speaking of TravelJigsaw, the car rental site that Priceline acquired in 2010, Boyd said "we're certainly not optimized in terms of the amount of traffic that all of our brands could potentially send to their rental car platform. So it represents an incremental opportunity, as well, going forward."
On the hot-button issue of airline direct-connects, Boyd predicted that large travel agencies in the future will use a combination of global distribution system connectivity and airline direct-connects. Priceline uses GDS services from Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus, and plans on implementing a direct-connect with American Airlines.
"So I think we'll see a mixed model going forward where some airlines may choose to connect with a large agency through a direct-connect," Boyd said. "But many other airlines will operate through the GDS, and big travel agents like us will operate with both."