Priceline.com


Priceline.com

Priceline.com (nasdaq|PCLN) is company that operates a commercial website that helps users obtain discount rates for travel-related items such as airline tickets and hotel stays. The company is not a direct supplier of these services; instead it provides comparative pricing from an assortment of service companies. It is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, United States. Priceline was the brainchild of venture capitalist Jesse Fink and of digital entrepreneur Jay Walker; the company's origins were closely tied with Walker's company Walker Digital. Hong Kong company Cheung Kong Holdings later purchased a significant portion of Priceline's stock. [cite web|url=http://moneycentral.msn.com/ownership?Holding=5%25+Ownership&Symbol=PCLN|title=priceline.com Incorporated: Ownership|work=MSN Money|accessdate=2006-12-20]

History

It first gained prominence for its "Name Your Own Price" system, where travelers would name their price for airline tickets, hotel rooms, and car rentals. The price would be compared to undisclosed prices in the Priceline database, with the purchaser knowing the location and name of the rental car company, airline, or hotel only after the purchase had gone through, with no rights to cancel. (According to the web site, the no-cancellation no-refund policy is because Priceline offers the price to the hotel, airline, or car rental agency with the promise that the service would be sold and the seat or hotel will be filled, or the car will be rented.) Priceline's cut of the proceeds was the difference between the price an individual named and the price charged by the service establishment. More recently, it has moved to a more traditional model where travelers are presented prices and are also told the name of the establishment. Travelers can still choose to name their price but the number of participants in that program has significantly diminished.

Priceline.com also experimented with selling gasoline and groceries under the "Name Your Own Price" model in 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble, through a partially owned affiliate, WebHouse Club. Priceline also got into the online auction business with "Priceline Yard Sales", where individuals would use the Priceline system to haggle for various second hand items and trade them in person. Priceline also sold long distance telephone service and automobiles under the "Name Your Own Price" model. All of these experiments were terminated in 2002. Another experiment, the "Name Your Own Rate" system for home loans, continues under a license with EverBank. In 2002, Priceline licensed its “Name Your Own Price” travel system to eBay.

Priceline returned to its original focus on travel products, such airfares and rental cars, with the addition of cruise sales and a special emphasis on hotel bookings in its commercials. During November 2007, Priceline “permanently” eliminated all booking fees on published airfares.

For years, Priceline's official spokesperson was William Shatner, who agreed to do the spots for free in exchange for stock in the company.Fact|date=September 2008 The arrangement turned out to be quite profitable for Shatner, who sold much of the stock shortly before its value plummeted in the dot-com bust. An early ad campaign featuring Shatner had him belt out popular songs in spoken word, in the style of his album, "The Transformed Man". He was "replaced" in 2004 by his "Star Trek" co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner still appeared in spots for Priceline, running into Nimoy as his replacement. When that campaign ended, Shatner again became Priceline's sole spokesperson.

Acquisitions

In November 2007, Priceline acquired Bangkok and Singapore-based Agoda Company in a transaction that includes an initial cash payment and a multi-year, performance-based earn-out. The acquisition helps Priceline increase its Asia-Pacific regional presence. [cite news
url = http://www.agoda.com/info/Priceline.html
title = Priceline.com Acquires Asian Online Hotel Reservation Service Agoda Company
]

Agoda.com

Agoda, an online hotel reservations service which specializes in securing the lowest discount hotel prices in Asia Pacific, is part of Priceline.com (nasdaq|PCLN). Based in Singapore with operations in Bangkok and the Philippines, Agoda's network includes 8,000 hotels in Asia and more than 49,000 worldwide. The staff of 200 provides a service similar to Priceline's. [cite web|url=http://www.agoda.com/info/about_agoda.html|title=What is Agoda? |accessdate=2008-05-07]

Booking.com

Priceline is the parent company of the European organisation Booking.com. Booking.com is Europe’s leading online hotel reservations agency by room nights sold, attracting over 20 million unique visitors each month via the Internet from both leisure and business markets worldwide. Established in 1996, Booking.com offers rates for any type of property, ranging from small independent hotels through to a five star luxury. The site is available in 18 languages and offers over 45,000 hotels in 67 countries.

Active Hotels

In November 2006, Active Hotels Limited, one of Europe’s leading online hotel reservation companies, changed its name to Booking.com Limited.

This name change decision follows over a year of significant investment within Priceline to enable recent acquisitions, Active Hotels and Bookings BV, to operate under a common business model on a pan-European basis. The principal benefit of the name change is a clear and memorable brand that can be promoted consistently to hotels, partners and employees as the business continues to expand internationally. The company’s physical locations and personnel are not affected by the name change and its websites will continue to be marketed with differentiated products targeting their loyal and growing customer groups.

Priceline branding

As such, Priceline, Booking.com, Active Hotels and Agoda are separately branded for dissimilar demographics. However each company is regulated and integrated into the Priceline business model.

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.priceline.com Priceline's official website]
* [http://www.charlierose.com/shows/1999/11/17/3/an-interview-with-jay-walker Video-interview with founder and vice-chairman of Priceline.com Jay Walker]
* [http://www.agoda.com Agoda's official website]
* [Official website Boooking.com BV: http://www.booking.com/]


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