Priceline.com Earnings Call Nuggets: Booking.com and Competitive Markets

Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN) recently reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Booking.com

Eric Sheridan – UBS: Wanted to talk a little bit about Booking.com in the United States and sort of early days what you’re seeing there from your experience and how you’re measuring the return on the advertising spending in that market and how you think about that type of brand advertising offline on a global basis going forward.

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Jeffery H. Boyd – Chairman, President and CEO: I think, Eric, we are looking at this as an experiment where our approach will be to very carefully measure what the impact of the spend is not only on direct business to Booking.com, but in the performance of the brand in all of the other channels in which it advertises aggressively. The results of that process of evaluating the data will take place over the course of the year and how we will proceed afterwards is will be driven by the data. Obviously, the group has very substantial experience advertising in the United States on the Priceline.com brand, and I think the team here has done a good job of very efficiently using a mix of offline and online to drive brand awareness and really effective online advertising and that ultimately is – the goal is to try to demonstrate that the Booking.com spend offline will have a positive ROI. But we haven’t taken any decisions of that given the stage of the process that we are in. But as Dan and I both mentioned we were happy with the results that we have seen in the Booking.com business outside of the core European market including North America. And we are excited to continue the experiment.

Competitive Markets

Brian Fitzgerald – Jefferies: Just a consistent theme is to deleverage yourselves and other people industry you are seeing across the advertising. If you had to hand your head on, is it impacted more by perhaps Google or other industry competitive pressures, or is it more the secular shift into emerging markets and you want to get in front of and branded out there and so that’s a more costly advertising dollar.

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Jeffery H. Boyd – Chairman, President and CEO: I think it would be a mistake to try to attribute it to more or less to anyone. We have a competitive marketplace and that’s certainly reflected in competition for clicks and keywords in some of the biggest and most popular travel markets that we operate in. We have other markets where there is pressure on hotel average daily rates where there’s lot of competition by local players, where your brand may not be as strong and so conversion is not as strong as it is in other markets where you have been operating for a longer time. So, all of those things have an impact as well as the unique competitive behavior of each player in the space has got their own approach and their own specific goals that they’re trying to accomplish with their marketing spend.