Priceline boss says ‘mobile phones next battleground’

Mobile phones will provide the next battleground for online travel agents and lead increasing numbers of travellers to book accommodation only on arrival in their destination, according to Priceline.com chief executive Jeffery Boyd.

The Priceline boss told the Citi Technology Conference in New York: “Consumer behaviour will change so people are comfortable getting on a plane without a hotel, knowing they can book one on their mobile device when they get there, that there will be availability and that they can get a deal.”

Boyd said: “We and others are going to make available the functionality that makes booking hotels on the fly easy.” However, he conceded: “Consumer behaviour is going to have to change in order to get  traction on mobile transactions.” 

US-based Priceline operates a series of leisure travel sites including priceline.co.uk.

Boyd acknowledged hotels can pay higher fees to ensure they appear towards the top of Priceline search results. But he insisted popularity with customers remained the most important factor in search results.

“Hotels that have good properties, good content, good price and good conversion can, on some of our sites, have the opportunity to  pay us a bit more money to protect their higher ranking in the display,” he said. “But it’s got to be a good booking hotel in order to participate.

“It’s a balance of price and value,” Boyd added. “We have algorithms and codes that understand what customers like to book and these tend to push those properties to the top of the display for any given location.”

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