July 10, 2018

Booking.com: The oral history of travel’s greatest acquisition


This is the oral history of Priceline’s two deals, the acquisitions of Active Hotels and Bookings B.V., that created Booking.com, and continue to shape the course of online travel and the competitive landscape today.

It was a seemingly inconsequential meeting between a self-described young, aggressive sales guy, Shane Whaley of Octopustravel, and a U.S. business development executive keen on European expansion, Glenn Fogel of Priceline.com, at World Travel Mart in London in 2002 that changed the course of travel history.

That encounter ultimately tipped off Fogel to the potential of Priceline acquiring Active Hotels, which Whaley had joined a year later. Priceline acquired the UK’s Active Hotels in September 2004 for $161 million, and in a one-two punch, bought Bookings B.V. of the Netherlands for $133 million in July 2005. Yes, Active Hotels was the pricier deal and the larger company at the time, although Bookings was growing faster.

What follows is The Oral History of Travel’s Greatest Acquisition Booking.com, a project that was a couple of years in the making. Skift started speaking with the co-founders and key executives at Active Hotels, Booking.com, Booking Holdings, and Expedia in 2016, continued in 2017, and it all culminates here. The interviews include the reminisces of Gillian Tans, Glenn Fogel, Jeffery Boyd, Dara Khosrowshahi, and Andy Phillipps, among others decision-makers.

Get the full story at Skift