Booking Holdings’ intention with the deal will be revealed in the steps it takes with HotelsCombined by either investing in it or gutting it but keeping the name.
Industry experts floated a few theories to explain the acquisition. One was that Booking Holdings wanted to fill some country gaps. The conglomerate may have decided it would be cheaper and faster to acquire a company, HotelsCombined, that was a market leader in select countries than to invest in its metasearch brand Kayak to grow its own share of consumer demand and regional supplier relationships.
The test of this theory will be if Booking Holdings continues to invest in the brand.
Another theory was that Kayak needed better technology for selling hotels, an area it is weaker in than in selling air. Perhaps HotelsCombined has some processes that are superior at luring a visitor to its website or mobile app to click on a supplier’s ad.
Alternatively, perhaps one of HotelsCombined’s tools for dealing directly with suppliers like hotel chains — such as its Revato product for hotels to manage how their advertisements appear on 9,000 sites — might be superior to Kayak’s technology and processes.
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