Do Priceline's bookings from its mobile apps cannibalize its website business or are they incremental?
Or is that even an important question?
Priceline President and CEO Jeffery Boyd, speaking at the 2010 Citi Technology Conference in New York Sept. 7, said the company doesn't have any hard data about whether its mobile-apps bookings are incremental, but believes they are capturing some bookings from people who ordinarily would have walked into a hotel and reserved a room at the front desk.
"Whether incremental or not, you have to have it because if you don't have it somebody else will," Boyd said of mobile apps.
Separately, Priceline released some statistics showing that hotel bookings from its Priceline Hotel & Rental Car Negotiator app tend to be last-minute and often take place after the customer has arrived at the destination.
Asked about that consumer behavior, Boyd told the Citi audience that Priceline is pleased that people are using the apps as intended.
Boyd noted that mobile bookings are not material to the company's earnings.
In other words, the mobile bookings don't amount to much yet.
"No, it is not material at this point in time, but it's growing rapidly," Boyd said.
"We always pay close attention to small numbers that grow fast," he added.
On other subjects, Boyd said:
- The U.S. Justice Dept. has requested to speak with Priceline about the pending Google acquisition of ITA Software and "we will speak to them [DOJ]." He repeated his previously stated position that the acquisition may benefit both Google and its advertisers to the extent that the acquisition produces better qualified leads.
- Priceline has no intention to consolidate its brands. "Booking.com has traction around the world now," Boyd said. "We wouldn't do anything to dilute that."
- Priceline intends to transform TravelJigsaw, in which it acquired a controlling stake in May 2010, into a global rental car brand. Boyd said Priceline will combine TravelJigsaw's knowledge with lessons learned from Booking.com and other Priceline companies to help make that happen.
- Agoda's opportunities are "very attractive" in the long term, but the relatively small size of the leisure travel market and affluent class in Asia means that growth in that market will take much longer than it did in North America.
- Priceline's opportunities in South America also are attractive, but limitations similar to those in Asia, will mean a slower growth trajectory than took place in North America.
- Priceline sees no need to launch a loyalty program to drive website traffic because its Name Your Own Price opaque product provides enough differentiation.
- With Expedia'sTripAdvisor growing around the world, does Priceline intend to get into the advertising and media business? Priceline CFO Daniel Finnegan told the Citi conference that the company looked at TripAdvisor, but Priceline does not see advertising as one of its best opportunities.