Booking Holdings’ COE in Bengaluru signals new era in travel experience with investment worth $250 mn, ET TravelWorld

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In a strategic move to reinforce its global presence, Booking Holdings, the eminent online travel giant, has unveiled its second Center of Excellence (COE) in Bengaluru, India, accompanied by a significant investment of USD 250 million over the next five years. The new COE stands as a testament to Booking Holdings’ dedication to advancing the travel experience and creating innovative solutions for customers worldwide.

Mathias Weber, Senior Vice President, Trip Division, Booking.com provided deeper insights into the company’s vision and the role of the new COE in an exclusive interview with ETTravelWorld.

Expanding Global Capabilities in Bengaluru
Weber highlighted the strategic importance of the new COE, stating, “The COE in Bengaluru is already home to over 350 employees, and we plan to scale that to 1000 employees over the next five years. India is a core market for us as a source and destination country. The talented workforce here allows us to scale our organization in a way that wouldn’t be possible in Europe.”

This facility serves as a pivotal hub for the development of capabilities that will be launched globally, emphasising the company’s commitment to offering a seamless travel experience across its diverse portfolio of brands.

Connected Trip Vision: Simplifying Travel for Users
Weber delved into the Connected Trip vision, designed to provide travellers with a seamlessly interconnected experience across various travel verticals. “We want to make booking multiple products easy from search to payment to post-booking assistance using our vast customer data to provide personalised recommendations.”

The vision aims to simplify the process of booking multiple products, including accommodation, flights, car rentals, attractions, and more, catering to the evolving needs of global travellers. Weber stressed the importance of post-booking services, stating, “We aim to empower customers to adjust, amend, or cancel reservations seamlessly across multiple verticals with just one click.”

Localisation Strategies for Diverse Markets
In response to the diverse needs of global markets, Weber highlighted the significance of localisation. “We plan to roll out these innovations across all markets, ensuring a consistent and personalized experience for users worldwide. Localisation involves tailoring content and services to make them more relevant to specific markets.”

Efficiency & Ethics in AI redefining travel, experts reveal

The panel conducted at ET Travel & Tourism Conclave & Awards, sketched a future where AI, if judiciously harnessed, will drive revolutionary shifts in the travel industry, augmenting experiences while ensuring ethical, secure, journeys for global travellers. The experts in the discussion highlighted how innovation in AI intersects with ethics and human intervention and why it is important to avoid over-dependence on tech tools.

For the Indian market, this translates into scaling the attractions business and adding more relevant products to cater to the unique preferences and travel patterns of Indian users.

Future Focus: Post-Booking Services and Conversational AI
Weber also shared future focus areas at Booking.com, stating, “A big focus area is in the post-book space, to ensure we offer customers the ability to adjust, amend, or cancel reservations across multiple verticals with one click of a button.”

He also outlined plans for enhancing recommendations through vast customer data and improving search functionality with a more free-text-based approach, providing customers with greater flexibility in exploring travel options.

The inauguration of the new COE in Bengaluru reflects Booking Group’s commitment to driving innovation in the travel industry. As the company continues to invest in technology and localisation, the travel industry can anticipate more user-centric features and enhancements, contributing to Booking’s global leadership in online travel services.

  • Published On Jan 4, 2024 at 06:49 PM IST

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