Airbnb buys HotelTonight, Booking.com boss comments

March 20, 2019
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Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, commented on the $400 million acquisition of HotelTonight by Airbnb, that he wasn't the least bit surprised that Airbnb would start to seep into the hotel industry, stating that the home-sharing company has brought on boutique hotels already.

Referring to HotelTonight as a “very, very small company,” Fogel said he’s not sure that adding the hotel-booking startup represents anything different than what Airbnb previously discussed. Fogel was speaking at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch retail technology conference.

“And we should’ve known that Airbnb had wanted to expand out beyond just doing home, and they’re going to do that,” Fogel said. “We believe that it’s a little bit — it’s sort of flattering to us — because we’ve always believed that the right presentation to a consumer is to show all the types of accommodations. And we’ve always believed that, so they started copying us and doing that.”

Fogel, unsurprisingly, argued that Booking.com, which mixes hotels with alternative accommodations and doesn’t charge a booking fee to travelers, provides “a better, better result.”

Airbnb declined to comment on Fogel’s remarks.

The Booking Holdings CEO often points to the fact that all of the Booking.com listings are instantly bookable, and he believes that is a competitive advantage over Airbnb. “On our site, every single, every single home on the Booking.com platform is instantly bookable, press, done,” Fogel said.

However, Fogel didn’t mentionb that Airbnb is likewise making a big push for its Instant Book feature, and in 2017 more than half its listings were instantly bookable.

“We have 29 million or 28 million listings,” Fogel said. “It’s enormous. Airbnb has 6 (million). We think we just provide a better solution for travelers around the world.”

Of course, the requirement that all of Booking.com’s listings be instantly bookable is likely hurting it with owners of individual vacation homes, many of whom like to vet travelers before accepting reservations.

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March 20, 2019

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