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Booking.com is an online accommodation booking website started as a small start-up in Enschede in 1996, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and since 2005 owned and operated by United States-based Priceline. Its operations centre is located in Amsterdam.[2]

Booking.com has over 1,000,000 properties globally under contract[3] and that it deals with more than 900,000 room nights reservations each day.[4] In 2013, it accounted for more than two thirds of Priceline's revenue.[5] Booking.com is available in more than 40 languages.[4] History[edit] Booking.com was formed when bookings.nl, founded in 1997 by Geert-Jan Bruinsma, merged in 2000 with Bookings Online, founded by Sicco and Alec Behrens, Marijn Muyser and Bas Lemmens, which operated as Bookings.org. The name and URL were changed into Booking.com and Stef Noorden was appointed as its CEO[6] In 1997, Bruinsma wanted to post an ad in De Telegraaf, the Dutch newspaper with the highest circulation. The ad was rejected since De Telegraaf only accepted ads with the phone number, not with a website. In 2002, Expedia refused to buy bookings.nl.[7]

In July 2005, the company was acquired by The Priceline Group for USD133 million, and later it cooperated with ActiveHotels.com, a European online hotel reservation company, purchased by The Priceline Group for USD161 million.[8]

In 2006, Active Hotels Limited officially changed its name to Booking.com Limited.[9] The integration successfully helped Priceline to change its financial position from a loss of USD19 million in 2002 to USD1.1 billion in profit in 2011. This acquisition was praised by some social media as “the best acquisition in Internet history” since no other acquisition in the digital travel market had shown to be as profitable.[10]

Darren Huston, was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Booking.com in September 2011 by the Priceline Group,[11] and also served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Priceline Group since 1 January 2014[12] until his resignation on 28 April 2016.[13] Huston was the former executive of Microsoft Corporation, the largest software company in the world in 2003. Later he served as President and Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft Japan from 2005 and Microsoft Corporation’s Corporate Vice President, Consumer & Online from 2008.[11]

Corporate affairs[edit] Marketing[edit] Selected partnerships and agreements[edit] In August 2012, CTRIP.com International Ltd (Ctrip), a Chinese online travel company, and Booking.com formed a partnership with a commercial agreement. This allows Ctrip to access Booking.com's global portfolio.[14]

Panorama Group, Indonesia’s largest tour and travel company, has spent $2 millions on launching bookpanorama.com. Strategic partnership have been formed with Booking.com, so that it will be able to access booking.com’s portfolio of more than 270,000 hotels across 179 countries in the world.[15]

In 2014, Sprylogics International Corporation, which provides local mobile solutions for consumers as well as mobile applications, has signed an agreement with Booking.com. So that Sprylogics’ Poynt App and Poynt-Enabled SDK would be able to use the extensive hotel data of booking.com.[16]

In October 2014, Ural Airlines, one of the top Russian airlines, announced that it is now formed a partnership with booking.com.[17]

Advertising[edit] Booking.com was the top spender in the travel & tourism category for Google Adwords in 2011, with its estimated annual spending on Google Adwords of $40.4 million.[18]

In 2013, Booking.com’s first brand campaign, ‘Booking.yeah’, was launched online, aired on television stations and in movie theaters and on TV networks, for the U.S. market with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam.[19] In September, Australia became the second market to view the campaign.[20] Later in 2014, Canadian,[21] the U.K.[22] and German [23] branding campaign were also being launched by Booking.com.

Operation[edit] Applications development[edit] In November 2010, Booking.com launched its own hotel and accommodation booking app in iPad version.[24]

In February 2011, Booking.com launched its Android version’ hotel and accommodation booking app.[24]

In April 2012, Booking.com announced the launch of the first global last-minute hotel app, ‘Booking.com Tonight’. It is an app designed for iPhone and iPod touch.[25]

In October 2012, Booking.com launched its first app in Windows version, which allows customers to complete their hotel and accommodation bookings directly from the new Windows 8 platform.[26] After launching the initial iPhone app, Booking.com updated the version of the iPhone app with a new function, Passbook.[27]

In December 2012, Booking.com launched its native Kindle Fire app, which is available for download in all Amazon’s Appstores including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Japan.[28]

A continuous growth in Booking.com’s mobile bookings has been shown since 2011. booking.com announced over PR Newswire in 2014 that its mobile bookings grew 160% in 2013, which the total transaction value of mobile accommodation bookings grew over to $8 billion. In 2011, the mobile bookings’ figure was $1 billion and tripled to over $3 billion in 2012.[29]

Brand[edit] Booking.com developed villas.com as product extension. It is more focused on vacation rental market, which covers villas, apartments and rental homes. The site has since been integrated into the main website.[30]

Controversy and criticism[edit] In September 2012, the United Kingdom's competition authority, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), issued a statement of objections against Booking.com, its direct competitor Expedia and the hotel chain IHG.[31] The OFT alleged that Booking.com and Expedia had entered into separate arrangements with IHG which restricted the online travel agent's ability to discount the price of room only hotel accommodation. Booking.com, Expedia and IHG made a proposal to the OFT to change their restrictions. The OFT accepted the proposal but it was later rejected by a higher authority at a tribunal.[32]

In March 2014, Booking.com sent a request to Ukrainian and Crimean Hotels to clarify if they have connections to Viktor Yanukovych and 17 other Ukrainians, who the European Union sanctions were imposed on. Since Booking.com is a Dutch company, which headquarters are based on Amsterdam, it is required to obey the trade restrictions of the EU, so that business is not allowed to be done with those sanctioned individuals.[33] Booking.com’s behavior aroused deprecation from its Russian competitors.[34]

In the beginning of November 2014, it was known that by accessing Booking.com reservations, criminals were able to obtain customer details through demands for prepayment. Booking.com said it was countering the fraudsters and refunding customers from the UK, US, France, Italy, the UAE and Portugal, all of which had been affected. Since the fraud, Booking.com has made changes so data can only be accessed from a computer linked to the hotel's server. Its teams have also worked to "take down" dozens of phishing sites, as well as working with some banks to freeze the money mule bank accounts.[35]

In February 2015, an open letter published by German hotelier Marco Nussbaum, Co-founder and CEO of the budget-design hotelbrand "prizeotel", the brand hijacking of booking.com met strong criticism. His letter explained detailed how the Adwords policy of booking.com is doing damage to his business. The letter was noticed in specialist media and led to a discussion about current difficulties and challenges of online distribution within the hotel industry.[36]

In April 2015 the French, Swedish and Italian competition authorities accepted a proposal by Booking.com to drop its "rate parity" clause and thereby allow competitor travel agents to offer lower hotel prices than Booking.com.[37] Booking.com further agreed to extend and apply its proposal across all EU states.[38] Hotels are still prevented from discounting prices directly on their own websites.[39]

Booking.com remains under investigation by competition authorities in the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland.[40] The EU has warned that Booking.com and Tripadvisor may have reached market dominance beyond the point of no return.[41]

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