The Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Feb 19, 2015 • 07:30 am ET

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The Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

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Executive
Darren Huston

addition to aggressively growing our number of accommodation partners the group invested nearly $2.6 billion in marketing during the year. While the preponderance of that investment was in online channels, Booking.com continued to build its offline competencies. Following successful TV launches in the US and Australia in 2013, we also ran effective campaigns in the UK, Canada and Germany.

We are pleased with the return on total advertising we're seeing in these markets and will continue to explore new markets where the data tells us it makes sense to diversify our ad spend. 2014, was a tale of two cities for Priceline.com with solid growth in its retail businesses offset by declines in its opaque businesses.

We believe that pressure in opaque is a reflective of a historically healthy overall travel environment in the United States which is beneficial to the balance of our group wide business. The fast growing Asia-Pacific market was another critical component to the Group's success in 2014. We believe agoda.com and Booking.com lead the region in intra-Asian hotel and accommodation bookings and we're now harvesting the fruit of our new commercial agreement with Ctrip that we entered last year.

China is a material and fast growing portion of our Asia-Pacific business and we're leaning into that opportunity in a smart and responsible fashion. RentalCars.com accelerated in Q4 comping a quarter in last year in which it also had accelerated. RentalCars excelled[Phonetic] 2014 from a position of strength and has seen its momentum continue into 2015. KAYAK has delivered an outstanding first full-year as part of the Group delivering strong top-line results and bottom-line results significantly exceeded our expectations at the time of acquisition.

KAYAK it's heads down innovating to extend its product leadership and build its brand in Europe. Early signs for KAYA in 2015 are so far quite positive. OpenTable our newest member to the Group remains very busy laying the groundwork for its cloud based re-platforming and international expansion. As I mentioned on the last call our vision for OpenTable is expansive and 2015 will be year of profitable investment.

It will take time to staff and scale a European sales organization and there is no shortage of product enhancements, internal plumbing improvements and infrastructure investments to make so that OpenTable is best positioned to scale to its true global potential. I will have more to share on OpenTable's progress as the year unfolds but we're optimistic from everything we're seeing so far and our team is super motivated.

In the US, OpenTable continues to achieve high diner growth as it transitions its restaurant base to its cloud based offering and continues its rollout of Pay with OpenTable. Mobile remains a continued bright spot for all of our brands. Just this past week Booking.com exceeded 100,000 gross transactions that's -- before cancellations or amendments on just mobile phones on two different days.

And we're still not in high season for bookings. On January 15, we also launched Booking Now on the Apple platform