Running a business means constantly reinventing yourself. A good example of that is Booking.com. What I like about Booking.com is that they disrupt themselves every now and then and actively make connections with startups and other parties because getting to the top is one thing, staying there is another…
The term digital native is often used for young people who have never known the world without Internet, tablets, smart phones and other smart devices. For them it’s hard to imagine a world that is analog and what processes are more asynchronous. They might never have seen a floppy disk and for the newest generation even DVDs and Blu-ray’s will look very strange. Why would you use physical storage if you can just get it online?
There are lots of digital natives in the business world. Companies that have never known what it would be like to do business in an analog work. One of such examples is booking.com. Booking.com is an online booking platform for hotels and is part of Priceline.com. Booking.com has 17,000 employees over the whole world as a billion-dollar revenue and its profits are higher than Heineken and Phillips. But it constantly needs to reinvent itself. Even if you’re at the top you need to continue to stay at the top.
Who’s the cheapest
Some of the challenges are coming from your competitors and from its business partners. Let’s focus on the competitors first, sites like Trivago position themselves as meta search engines for hotel rooms, the core feature of booking.com. In this case instead of going to the outside users might go to a meta-site like Trivago.
From there they take the offer they like best, which might be the cheapest one. If that happens too often this will reduce traffic which can influence operations and profitability. Transparency, especially when you have the prices of 10 to 20 booking sites on screen, will also drive prices down. Because you might not need to be the cheapest per se but you do need to be in that sort of ballpark as far as prices go. Other companies, for instance nimble startups could outdo you one by offering better technology based on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Happy partners happy business?
Booking.com is a platform where you can book hotel rooms. Their business partners, hotels, Bed & Breakfasts and apartments, are of course necessary to do business with, since Booking does not own any rooms or accommodations. Those partners need to be happy preferably, or at least not so unhappy that they will stop doing business with you, because hotels pay a fee to booking.com for each room booked. They would rather have customers book via their own sites instead of the booking platforms for meta-search platforms. But they also understand that it is necessary evil. Travelers are not going to go to ten or twenty different hotel sites to look for a room. An alternative would be to start an open hotel based reservation system themselves but that takes time and more importantly consensus so although that’s a viable option is not likely be an option that’s going to be realized with soon.
Reinventing and disrupting
So, there are many reasons to reinvent yourself. It might also be that reinventing yourself is part of your DNA as a company. According to Booking’s CEO, Gillian Tans, they are constantly disrupting themselves. And that is something that is interesting to say the least. It is the wording that strikes me. Not improving but disrupting. So even if you are the leader, online you cannot sit still. You need to innovate and improve and disrupt your services. Make connections with third-party startups new and unexpected business partners that offer something that might not have something to do with booking a hotel room but had everything to do with travel. I can imagine booking.com working together with for instance Travis the translator, a handy device that will do a good enough translation between 80 different languages real-time, for instance from Dutch to Hindi. With the APIs of the Artificial Intelligence company Clarifai to tag content like accommodation photos with meaningful tax to improve findability.
Connecting with quality services requires the ability to make connection management of and monitor. What I’m saying here is if you want to do that. It will allow you to mediate and transform messages as well as manage the lifecycle APIs monitoring and perhaps not the most unimportant thing: monetize them.
If you’re looking for a platform that can do that, I would recommend you to take a look at the two selection guides that we have. The first one is about the concept of the Enterprise Service Bus, so message mediation and get transformations both from a content perspective as well as the transport. If you want to read more about the criteria for an API manager and the three M’s mentioned (management, monitoring and monetization), you definitely should read our API selection guide too.