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Booking Holdings Says ‘Connected Trip’ Attracts New, Repeat Travelers

Online travel company Booking Holdings is seeing results from its deployment of new tech-driven initiatives.

These initiatives include its “connected trip” vision, its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and its enhanced Genius loyalty program, Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel said Thursday (May 2) during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

While distinct from each other, these efforts fit together into the company’s ongoing effort to deliver an enhanced planning, booking and traveling experience for its customers, Fogel said.

“We see encouraging early proof points at Booking.com, as we have grown the number of total active travelers while experiencing higher growth in repeat travelers, which speaks to the progress we are making in encouraging customers to book again with us,” Fogel said.

The “connected trip” offering allows customers to book all aspects of their travel experience — including accommodations, flights, rental cars and attraction bookings — through the company’s platform.

Booking Holdings has seen a growing number of customers arranging more than one of these aspects on the platform, and expects this offering to improve the customer experience and engagement with the company’s app.

“Bringing all of these elements of travel together in a seamless booking experience and unlocking the ability to merchandise across verticals is a capability we have been building at Booking.com over the last several years,” Fogel said.

On the AI front, Booking Holdings has been deploying that technology to power a trip planner, a travel assistant, and other features and tools.

The company is also exploring ways to use generative AI (GenAI) to improve the self-service tools it provides to travelers, thereby delivering quicker answers and reducing the need to contact live agents. It’s also looking to use the technology to enhance live agents’ efficiency by helping them access information and document conversations.

“In sum, we believe GenAI will lower our customer service cost transaction over time and improve the customer experience,” Fogel said.

As for the Genius loyalty program, the company plans to keep expanding the program beyond accommodations and into its other verticals.

“We have seen an encouraging number of our rental car supplier partners choosing to adopt the Genius program, and we have just begun to test the program in flights and attractions,” Fogel said.

Fogel’s comments came during an earnings call in which he said the travel business got off to a strong start in 2024.

The first quarter exceeded the company’s expectations, with travelers booking nearly 300 million room nights across the Booking Holdings platforms, a figure that was up 9% year over year, Fogel said.

“We continue to see resiliency in global leisure travel demand, including healthy growth for travel on the books that is scheduled to take place during our peak summer travel season,” Fogel said.