Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Ready for a memorable adventure? This company can help you turn your travel dreams into reality! [Monday Marketing Marvels]

October 12, 2020

What are some of the things that you usually plan ahead of your out-of-town vacation?

Hotel accommodation?

Car rental service?

Tour guides and dine-in reservations?

When it comes to travel and other related services, this company has the right apps for you to make your trip memorable and hassle-free.

Booking Holdings Inc. is an American company that is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut and operates several travel fare websites and metasearch engines.

Founded in 1997 by Jay S. Walker, the company was initially named Priceline.com Inc., with an online travel site that used a name-your-own-price bidding model.

In 1999, the company became a public company through an initial public offering. It experimented on selling other products and services such as groceries, gasoline, and mortgages but those were discontinued in 2000.

On April 1, 2014, Priceline.com Inc.’s name was changed to The Priceline Group Inc. Then in 2018, the company was named Booking Holdings Inc.

As of 2020, Booking Holdings has over 300 offices around the globe and a website that is available in 40 languages.

A world leader in online travel and other related services

Booking Holdings operates with a mission “to make it easier for everyone to experience the world.”

As one of the leading providers of travel-related services online, the company caters to the demands of its local partners and consumers through its six acquired consumer-centric brands:


Founded in 1996, the brand offers travelers a range of transportation services and great places to stay in―homes, hotels, and other places included on its listing.

As one of the world’s largest travel marketplaces, Booking.com helps property owners all over the world to reach a global audience by listing their properties on the brand’s mobile app and website.

Booking.com’s app is available in 44 languages and currently offers more than 29 million accommodation listings all over the world.


The brand searches other businesses’ websites to provide travelers the information they need to find the right flight schedules, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages. All in one platform.

With various tools and features on its app such as KAYAK Trips, Explore, and Price Forecast, KAYAK makes trip planning easier for its users.


As the original name of the company that is now Booking Holdings, Priceline provides travelers with smart and easy ways to save on hotel rooms, airline tickets, cruises, vacation packages, and rental cars.

The brand also offers free accommodation cancellations as well as pay-at-arrival services. Its Express Deals offers exclusive savings without the bidding process.


As a Singapore-based e-commerce startup in 2005, Agoda has expanded its business to offer a global network of over 2.5 million properties in more than 200 countries.

The brand gives travelers easy access to a wide range of hotels, apartments, homes, and villas that are appropriate for all budgets and travel occasions.

In 2019, Agoda added flight products and packages on its website and mobile app.


The brand helps travelers make the right choice in car rental services by offering the best prices from its partners in the car rental industry.

Rentalcars.com is available 24/7 on the web, mobile app, and its multilingual contact center.


As one of the leading providers of online restaurant reservations, OpenTable seats over 1 billion diners every year across more than 60,000 restaurants worldwide.

The brand connects restaurants and diners together by helping diners book the perfect table and at the same time, encouraging restaurants to practice hospitality towards their customers.

Making a difference in global communities

Aside from being a world leader in its field, Booking Holdings is giving back to the communities through its sustainable tourism initiatives, giving, and volunteerism.

The core of the company’s activities focuses on sustainable travel so that travelers can continue to go to destinations that are still worth exploring in the future.

Here are some highlights from the company’s community engagement efforts in 2019:

  • Booking Cares Fund. Booking.com’s initiative aimed to support non-profit, sustainable travel projects that could strengthen local communities, preserve local culture, help promote tourism, and protect natural resources.DMC%23100-7.pngIndividuals who presented highly useful and efficient plans to improve the travel industry were invited to Booking.com’s Amsterdam office to develop their project plans with the help of Booking.com experts.In 2019, the Fund provided USD 1.4 million to support projects in the sustainable travel industry.
  • Booking Booster. Another initiative of Booking.com, Booking Booster supported industry innovation efforts through an accelerator program for sustainable tourism startups.DMC%23100-7.pngThe three-week program consisted of lectures, hands-on workshops, and coaching sessions that were led by Booking.com staff and experts.The tourism startups that were involved in the project received USD 2.2 million from the Booking Booster fund as a support for their next stage of growth.
  • CSR Day Off. Agoda launched CSR Day Off, a program that gives its own employees the formal avenue to take paid time to do volunteer work.Through the program, volunteer employees were given the opportunity to focus on different initiatives that could also involve Agoda’s partners, customers, and other business units in sustainability initiatives.
  • Food Bank Drive. In 2019, Priceline conducted a food bank drive worth USD 70,000 to support local pantries in Norwalk.The brand also gave USD 75,000 worth of donations to Canadian actor William Shatner’s charity, Horse Show.
  • Rise Against Hunger. To show its support to non-profit organization Rise Against Hunger’s mission to end starvation, OpenTable prepared over 60,000 meals to provide food to the world’s most vulnerable.

“Be a Booker”

In 2019, Booking Holdings’ flagship brand Booking.com launched a video ad that aimed to encourage consumers to stop staring at travel ideas on social media and instead “be bold and press the confirmation button.”

According to Booking.com, the ad with the tagline “Be a Booker” wanted to assure “bookers” (the term that was coined for its users) that the company will do all the work to help them plan their trip in a seamless way.

The ad showed a mix of traditional and alternative accommodations―including a farmhouse, lake house, and apartment―in order to highlight Booking.com’s wide range of accommodation listings.

Aside from that, the ad featured the company’s free cancellation policy, since Booking.com’s research showed that 36% of Americans stated that they are too busy at work to travel to other places.

Using the free cancellation policy, the company urged these Americans to “book now, tell your boss later,” and in case their boss disapproves, bookers can always opt to cancel their travel reservations free of charge.

Booking.com aired its ad on primetime TV in the US and across its online channels.

In the past five years, Booking Holdings has recorded a revenue of:

  • USD 9.2 billion in 2015
  • USD 10.7 billion in 2016
  • USD 12.7 billion in 2017
  • USD 14.5 billion in 2018
  • USD 15.1 billion in 2019

With the help of its six primary brands, community engagement efforts, and dedicated staff, Booking Holdings became one of the global leaders in the travel industry.

Booking Holdings Inc.’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers

Booking Holdings Inc. (BKNG) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has BKNG been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent BKNG’s earning power (Uniform Return On Assets). BKNG has seen robust, generally improving profitability. From 2004-2012, Uniform ROA expanded from 20% to 797%, when the firm successfully acquired its competitor, Kayak Corporation. However, due to the rise of non-hotel accommodation giant Airbnb and increased competition among other online travel agencies (OTAs), Uniform ROA declined to 517% levels in 2015. Thereafter, Uniform ROA rebounded to 685% in 2018, before declining to 412% in 2019.

The global ROA is just 6%.

While BKNG’s Uniform ROA maintained robust returns, as-reported ROA portrays a different story.

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, BKNG’s profitability is terribly understated. When looking at the as-reported numbers, you would think that the company’s profitability has been abysmal in the past sixteen years. As-reported ROA only ranges from 4% to 25%, far lower than Uniform numbers. Additionally, when Uniform ROA achieved a peak of 797% in 2012, as-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) was only at 22%.

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that it has been doing well and making a profit.

As stated by Booking Holdings CEO and President Glenn D. Fogel, since the company’s founding, the leadership team and employees have worked together to establish a purpose-driven company.

With a commitment to fostering environmental, social, and corporate sustainability, the company is able to focus not just on short-term profits but also on long-term goals that all generations of travelers can benefit from.

The road to sustainable travel is still a long and winding one, but with perseverance and strong partnerships, Booking Holdings is on the right track to create a positive difference to the people, environment, and communities.

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy.

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies.

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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