Priceline.com Exec Insights: Intl. Room Night Growth, Lack of Traction

On Wednesday, Priceline.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what the executives shared.

International Room Night Growth 

Ross Sandler – RBC Capital: Jeff, you mentioned that international room night growth accelerated in the first quarter and I think you had a pretty tough comp 1Q as well, you had later commented for deceleration in 2Q. So could first just remind us what (indiscernible) to look like, and what is your take on – is there any region that you would be a little more cautious or conservative on 2Q? And are you seeing any of your weakness in Southern Europe moving into any other territories within Europe? Thanks guys.

A Closer Look: Priceline.com Earnings Cheat Sheet>>

Jeffery H. Boyd – President and CEO: For Q1 Ross, what we said was that units decelerated overall, but from the point that we reported at year end and gave guidance for Q1 there was acceleration from that point forward through the end of the quarter. So overall was deceleration for the quarter. In terms of linearity on Q2, each month is progressively more significant than the last month and so the biggest part of the quarter by far is yet to come. Our forecast reflects the fact that last year was a very strong performance with strong acceleration year-over-year and so it reflected fairly significant deceleration for the back half this year as a result of that comp. In terms of regions in Europe, the only one that we’ve called out really is noticeable in terms of softness in growth rate and ADR trend is Southern Europe and not only certain countries within Southern Europe. Besides that, nothing that I would highlight as being way off trend.

Lack of Traction with Chains

Mark Mahaney – Citigroup: You made a comment also about that 90% of room nights booked at Booking.com and (indiscernible) independent and small group hotels. Just to check the opposite, do you feel like you are having any traction problems with chain hotels, I realized they are less important than international markets still? Is there anything in that that’s a negative in the sense of lack of traction with those larger hotels? Thank you.

Jeffery H. Boyd – President and CEO: I don’t think so Mark. I think it would be fair to say that Booking.com has been doing business with the large multinational chains, particularly the ones headquartered in the United States for a shorter period of time, than priceline.com has, or some of our competition. So there is still some building going on there. But Booking.com is doing well with the international change, they very much like the international traveler demand, which was the other statistic that I mentioned, where 70% of the room night reservations were for travel in another country, and Booking.com is a unique source for that kind of traffic.

Mark Mahaney – Citigroup: Jeff, real briefly. So that 70% for travel in another country, is it your sense that those are all incremental or very largely incremental, that small independent hotel?

Jeffery H. Boyd – President and CEO: I don’t think, given the size of the business, you could fairly represent that it’s all incremental. But what I do believe is that, for most of these hotels, their source of demand for that kind of traffic would be, an offline travel agent operating through a consolidator, which is a very-very expensive source of demand for a hotel.