Booking.com’s recovery in Europe was boosted by neighbors traveling abroad

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Skift grip

A new type of travel corridor is emerging, particularly between France, Germany and the UK, as tourists stay close to home when booking their first international trips in a long time.

Matthew Parson

European tourists may be collectively cautious, but they are booking summer holidays at levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. That’s the view of Booking.com, one of Europe’s biggest online travel agencies, which has seen cross-border sales recover above 2019 figures year-to-date.

“People are eager to travel, there is a strong appetite,” Carlo Olejniczak, vice president and general manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told the Skift Forum Europe in London on Thursday. “There has been a strong trend since January for the summer.”

Pandemic travel corridors were once made up of countries allowing reciprocal travel, but with strict testing restrictions. Today, Olejniczak described a new type of travel corridor where tourists book a trip to a neighboring country.

France, the UK and Germany are currently driving double-digit growth in Europe and, like Arian Gorin of Expedia for Business, who spoke at the forum , the Booking.com executive was optimistic for the summer.

Help us be greener

Speaking at The Londoner hotel, Olejniczak added that he has been in charge of his company’s coronavirus recovery plan and has seen new trends emerge.

“We had to adjust our plan, towards hyperlocal, more domestic trips. People were fleeing urban centers,” he told Skift founding editor Dennis Schaal. “We had to make all these changes at the same time, test and learn at the same time.”

In addition to guiding city travelers, greener travel appears to be an emerging theme in 2022 and beyond. In a recent Booking.com consumer survey, 69% of respondents said the travel industry should help them travel more sustainably.

Olejniczak said his company is now trying to better understand the intent of its customers and has implemented a new program of 30 certifications and 32 best practices, such as waste management or electricity consumption, on l all of its properties to create a “virtuous circle”. ”

Regulation in sight?

However, Booking.com, which is headquartered in Amsterdam and currently has 28 million registrations and 100 million monthly active users for its app, could be caught up in a regulatory showdown. In late 2020, European Union antitrust czar Margrethe Vestager mentioned Booking.com as a potential target of the Digital Markets Act.

Booking.com has long been considered the largest accommodation site in the world, but rejects the label.

“Do you have any power or influence over hotel commissions? Schaal asked.

Olejniczak pointed out that there are 130 travel websites in Europe and Booking.com covers 13% of hotel rooms. “We are not against the regulation, it should be aimed at the biggest players,” he argued.

Meanwhile, Booking.com is playing its part to help refugees fleeing Ukraine. He has built a technology platform to help refugees find housing and works with the United Nations Refugee Committee.

“The idea was to find a quick solution to find a room. We have rooms that we want to give away for free, but we need to find a way to distribute them, to make sure the rooms find the right people,” he said. He did not encourage bookings in Ukraine, as a way to try to get money into the hands of locals like Airbnb, and instead urged donating to the Red Cross.

And the suspension of operations in Russia and Ukraine had little impact on its business, as the destination, both inbound and outbound, represented a low single-digit percentage of its total market.

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