CEO of Booking.com checks in to Prague College
by Alex Went, on 07 November 2014 11:59:44 CET
On 17 October, it was our great privilege to welcome Mr Darren Huston, CEO of Priceline group and its subsidiary Booking.com to speak in the Master Speaker Series, hosted by the Prague College Centre for Research and Interdisciplinary Studies (CRIS).
Mr Huston spoke to an audience of 70 staff and students about the transformation that has occurred in the travel and hospitality market in just a few short decades: only twenty years ago there was no internet and most travel transactions were expensive and time-consuming. Now, said Mr Huston, everyone is a travel agent, and hotels have become more answerable to their guests.
'Booking', based in Amsterdam but with a global reach, has expanded to become the number one reservations site worldwide and Europe’s largest e-commerce company. Mr Huston's approach - to outrun the competition whilst being humble about the company’s success - is paying dividends. "We live in a world which has been completely changed by the democratization of information," Mr Huston explained. "The activities of Booking.com are consistent with changing lifestyles, where customers turn increasingly to authentic experiences and high-quality customer service. With verified reviews in 42 languages, we are well positioned in a market where tourism is growing at twice the rate of GDP.”
Questions to the speaker ranged from the impact of AirBnB and other competitor companies to how a corporation deals with online fraud. At a special lunch after the talk, Mr Huston was joined by this year's first Master Speaker Leon Jakimic, the founding president of Czech-based firm Lasvit, which provides decorative glassware for many of the top ranking hotels available on Booking.com. Students and staff are already looking forward to the next in what is turning out to be an exceptional season of outside speakers.