Amsterdam-based Booking.com is expanding its activities with the aim of becoming a complete travel ‘department store.’
Customers from around the world will be able to book flights, attractions, food and drink offerings as well as local travel through the Booking-com website, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Friday.
For years Booking,com has offered only hotel rooms and other accommodation. CEO Gillian Tans told the paper the company is poised to enter the broader travel market partly due to the rise of smart phones.
Tans: ‘People have more confidence in smart phone technology so that they book more last-minute deals. They believe it is no longer necessary to plan far ahead. I’ll just go. Book the first hotel when I arrive in Bangkok and then see what happens.’
Booking.com captured a good share of the hotel booking market shortly after it was founded in Amsterdam in 1996. As a result, the number of tour operators and travel agencies fell back as travellers began booking hotel rooms on their personal computers.
Now the company is investing millions in new technologies used in machine learning and artificial intelligence to personalise bookings.
Booking.com needs to change course as competition increases from sites like Airbnb which also offer tourist attractions like historic walks, offbeat concerts and kayaking. Airlines like Ryanair and KLM are also expanding their range of offerings with deals that include car hire and accommodation.
US bourse-listed Priceline acquired Booking.com for $135m in 2005 ad is now one of Priceline’s best performing units. It is about to change its name to Booking Holding. The bourse valuation of the company is more than $100bn.