Booking Holdings is reporting that room nights booked in Q3 2021
increased for the third quarter in a row, growing to 183 million, and revenue
increased to $4.7 billion – putting it just shy of Q3 2019 revenue of $5
Room nights in the third quarter were up from 157 million in
Q2 of this year, up nearly 44% over the same period last year and – maybe most
noteworthy – inching closer to pre-pandemic Q3 2019 levels of 223 million.
Total revenue more than doubled compared to the prior
quarter, when it was $2.2 billion, and jumped 77% over Q3 of 2020.
“We are pleased to report another quarter of sequential
improvement in room night trends, which was primarily driven by better results
in Europe. Revenue in our seasonally strongest third quarter was $4.7 billion,
which was more than double the amount of revenue we recognized in the second
quarter of 2021,” says Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings.
“We are encouraged by the signs of recovery we saw in many
parts of the world in the third quarter, and our teams are working hard to
continue to strengthen our company’s position and execute against our strategic
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Fogel says international travel, particularly within Europe,
drove the overall improvement in room night trends from Q2 to Q3, but with
cross-border travel still restricted in many areas during the quarter, international
room night figures are still “significantly depressed” compared to 2019, down
50% comparing the same quarters.
For all room nights booked, about 30% were alternative
accommodations – up slightly from Q3 2019. However, Fogel says the company saw
greater sequential improving demand for hotel room nights in Europe from Q2 to
Q3. Of the 28 million accommodation listings on Booking.com, about 6.6 million
are for alternative accommodations, relatively unchanged from Q2.
Gross travel bookings – the total dollar value generally
inclusive of taxes and fees of all travel services booked, net of
cancellations - were $23.7 billion, an increase of 77% from the prior year's comparative quarter
but still down 6% compared to Q3 2019.
Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2021 was $2.1
billion, a 111% year-over-year and just 15% below Q3 2019
– making it the most profitable quarter since Q3 2019.
Booking Holdings marketing expenses nearly doubled in Q3 of
this year compared to the prior year, going from $731 million to $1.38 billion.
Compared to Q3 2019, it was a 3% increase.
Fogel says the company saw a higher percentage of customers
booking direct than in the third quarter of 2019, even as the company “leaned
in to performance marketing channels” during the period. About two-thirds of
the room nights were booked on mobile devices, and the majority of those came
through the app, which surpassed 100 million monthly active users during the
Along with focusing on improving the user experience on the app,
which Fogel calls “the center of our connected trip experience,” he says the company
will continue to work to increase consumer awareness through advertising on
“We’ve made progress in strengthening our foundations for digital
marketing, including in social channels, though our spend so far has been small.
However we are increasingly confident in the potential for these channels, and
as we see positive results we expect to raise our level of participation there.”
Total company air tickets in Q3 were up 131% compared to the
same quarter in 2019. Fogel says the growth is primarily driven by strength at Booking Holdings-owned Priceline, but he says it was also helped by Booking.com’s growing flight
offering, which is now live in 27 countries.
“We continue to scale up a robust flight platform,” he says.
“We are seeing that over 25% of Bookings’ flight bookers are
entirely new customers. With these new customers we are seeing an encouraging attach
rate of accommodation bookings. However there is more work to be done to further
optimize the cross-sell opportunities.
“That’s part of the overall vision of being able to bring new
customers in from different verticals, different ways than we’ve done in the
past, which is primarily paid-for performance marketing ... and being able to
provide them with a lot more value.”
Fogel also made note of the United Nations Climate Change
Conference, known as COP26, currently taking place in Scotland, saying he “cannot
overstate the importance for our industry to come together to work toward the
goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.” Fogel says Booking Holdings is working to
make it easier for consumers to find sustainable accommodation options, working
with supply partners to help them improve sustainability at the property level, and the company will publish its own “climate transition plan” in early 2022.