Booking Holdings’ gross travel bookings came in at $22
billion between April and June of this year, up from just $2.3 billion in
the same period of 2020 and slightly ahead of the last fully pre-pandemic
quarter – Q4 of 2019.
Room nights booked in the second quarter were 157 million,
up from 99 million in the Q1 of this year and a 458% increase from Q2 2020. Sixty
percent of room nights booked were transacted on mobile.
“We are encouraged by another quarter of meaningful
sequential improvement in booking trends with second quarter room nights increasing
59% versus the first quarter of 2021, primarily driven by stronger results in
Europe and in the U.S.," says Glenn Fogel, Booking Holdings’ CEO.
“We remain focused on strengthening our core accommodation
business and driving benefits to our travelers and our accommodation supply
partners alike. In addition, we continue to execute against our strategic
priorities, including our Connected Trip vision, which we believe will further
enhance our core accommodation business.”
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In a call with analysts, Fogel shared that Booking.com’s
flight product – a focus of the Connected Trip strategy - has grown from being available in 18 countries at the end of Q1 to now 24 countries.
“Air tickets booked through Booking’s flight offerings have
continued to meaningfully exceed our expectations. However these still
represent a small portion of our total reported air tickets, which were up 120%
in Q2 vs Q2 2019. Primarily this is due to Priceline,” Fogel says.
“While it remains early days for Booking’s flight product, we
are seeing positive data indicating we are getting entirely new customers for
Booking.com. In addition we are seeing an encouraging attach rate of
accommodation bookings from these new customers. These early data points help
demonstrate that a flight offering creates a new front to bring incremental
customers to the platform and to cross sell an accommodation to these
Booking Holdings’ total revenue for Q2 was $2.2 billion, up
from $630 million in the same quarter last year and just more than half the
revenue recorded in the second quarter of 2019.
Adjusted EBITDA for the second quarter of 2021 was $48
million, compared with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $376 million in the second quarter
The company more than doubled its
spending on marketing in Q2 to $988 million, up from $461 million in the first
quarter of this year, and says ROI improved across many paid channels.
“We are leveraging our marketing
expertise and ROI focus as we test into other channels – like social and
digital media - as well as when we deploy promotional campaigns like our ‘Back
to travel’ campaign. We will continue to expand the diversity of our marketing
and customer acquisition channels as we aim to drive incremental traffic to our
platform and increase consumer awareness of our brands,” Fogel says.
On Booking.com, Fogel says as of the end of June there were
28 million listings, with 6.6 million of those being for alternative
accommodations. He says the company is continuing to add properties, but there
is “much work ahead” to improve and grow the brand’s alternative accommodation
product, with a particular interest to add more single property owners in the United
And the company is cautiously optimistic about future
bookings. CFO David Goulden says in Europe and North America there are currently more gross bookings for
the remaining summer months than there were at the same time in 2019.
“So assuming cancellation rates stay the same, that would
potentially result in more revenue in those markets for the remaining summer
months,” he says.
“But we also have a higher percentage of cancellable
bookings out there or refundable bookings than we had at the same time in 2019,
as well, so there is obviously some risk that more of those bookings cancel
than they would have in the same period of time.”
And on a less positive note, Goulden acknowledges Asia is
down significantly compared to 2019, with room night growth worse in Q2 than it
was in Q1 of this year.
“The whole region is very depressed as you know, vaccination
rates are lagging in most parts of Asia, also the response to COVID outbreaks
tends to be more aggressive and restrictions are put in place more quickly
based upon outbreaks in the Asia region across all countries,” he says.
“So travel levels are very low... still a long way to go.”
And when asked his thoughts on corporate travel – while acknowledging
Booking Holdings’ business is more than 80% leisure – Fogel says the future of
work is still very uncertain, as more people are able to work without going
into an office and as companies consider preserving the cost-savings seen in
the last year as travel has been restricted.
“I believe that there’s still going to be resistance by CFOs
and other people who are cost-conscious in their businesses to say, ‘Do we really
need to have all the travel we did in the past? Maybe not. Because with these
new technologies we seem to be pretty effective without having to send somebody
from New York to London for $15,000 for a one day meeting,’” he says.
“And I think that’s going to somewhat change how the business
of travel is done. There will be fewer people up front in the plane and
spending a lot of money at those very high cost, five-star hotels, etc., which
will change things a little bit.”