When it comes to putting all its brands on a global hotel platform, Priceline continues to think differently than its rivals -- and just keeps growing.
While Orbitz Worldwide and Expedia Inc. separately have been laboring to get their far-flung brands on global hotel-technology platforms, Jeffery Boyd, the Priceline CEO, says, in essence, "no thank you."
During the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Priceline saw its hotel room nights grow 47.4% to 40.6 million year over year, and 12.5% sequentially. From a lower base, Expedia saw its room nights increase 16% in the third quarter to 28.7 million compared with the same period in 2010.
Priceline notched market share gains in the US and internationally as gross bookings increased 56.2% to $6.3 billion.
And, oh yeah, net income climbed 110.6% to nearly $472.9 million on revenue of almost $1.5 billion, a 45% jump.
With some 170,000 hotels in the fold, Boyd says the company is "not interested" in building a single technology platform for Priceline.com, Booking.com, Agoda and TravelJigsaw, adding that it would be expensive and complex, and he wouldn't want to put the company's growth "at risk."
"I don't forsee us spending massive amounts of money on some integrated project," Boyd told financial analysts during the company's third quarter earnings call. "I just don't think that is something we would do."
Of course, while Priceline is abstaining, Expedia and Orbitz may have their own legitimate reasons for transitioning to new platforms.
Boyd, though, says he's satisfied that Priceline's brands have adequate capacity to share inventory and customers, and have enough "velocity" on their separate brand platforms.
If Expedia and Orbitz have had to deal with some distraction in building out their global hotel technology, Boyd addressed a comment to Priceline's global employees: "I commend my colleagues around the world for their focus and execution."
Priceline, too, is not immune to competitive pressures, of course.
Priceline's Name Your Own Price opaque hotel booking service lost market share in the third quarter to Expedia's relatively new opaque product, Expedia Unpublished Rates, Priceline noted in a financial disclosure today.
And, if daily deals' sites gain more traction, Priceline could have additional trouble in obtaining discounted hotel inventory and it's share of discounted hotels in the U.S. could decrease, the company said.
In other news, Boyd said the company has plenty of money available for acquisitions and share repurchases, adding "We remain open to opportunistic transactions on both fronts going forward."
Unlike Expedia and Travelocity, Priceline has taken a more neutral approach to Google's launch of vertical search for flights and hotels.
Boyd said Priceline is trying to participate as an advertiser in Google Hotel Finder, in particular, as efficiently as possible.
He contended that it is "incumbent" on the travel industry to find ways to attract the "well-qualified customers" that Google is attempting to drive to their businesses.