Tourists take selfie photographs with the city’s skyline in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg)

Competing Against Facebook and Google in the $2 Trillion Travel Industry

(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Glenn Fogel recently appeared on Businessweek Talks, where he addressed the increasing competition in the $2 trillion global travel industry. Technology is the key to beating rivals, he says, and to bringing Booking’s brands closer together.
● CEO of Booking Holdings Inc., whose brands include Agoda, Kayak, and Priceline
● Joined the company in 1999
● Harvard J.D., 1985; Wharton B.S., 1983

How do you differentiate yourself from the pack?

You’ve got to provide more value, both to the customer who’s going to be traveling and the other side—the host, or the supplier, or the hotel owner. The way you do that is using technology. It’s getting really smart people—AI specialists, people who understand the data—so you can come up with a better solution for both sides of the marketplace.

Are Google and Facebook your ultimate competitors?

I don’t think anybody can go to sleep and not be concerned about what will Google do next, or Facebook, or Amazon, and that’s just in the U.S. The fact is, though, travel is a lot harder than you think. We have thousands of people, every day, who are calling on hotels to make sure we’re getting the best prices for our customer and working those relationships. That’s not just technology, that’s boots on the ground.

How has the travel business changed in the almost two decades you’ve worked in it?

Think about all the troubles you’ve had traveling, about all the problems of booking something, and then something goes wrong. How do you fix it? We are building a frictionless solution. That’s what we want at the end of the day, that you just have to do it once, and it’s done, and if anything goes wrong, there’s somebody who knows everything that happened and can fix it.
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