Online travel giant Priceline Group changes name to Booking Holdings

  • Priceline was founded in 1997.
  • The company had quickly become famous for its name-your-own-price feature.
  • The company's new ticker will be BKNG.

Priceline Group changed its name to Booking Holdings on Wednesday, shifting focus to its hotel-and-home-rental unit, the company's largest.

The company will lose its PCLN ticker and be listed on Nasdaq as BKNG starting Tuesday.

The online travel giant founded two decades ago rose to prominence in the dot-com boom with advertisements featuring "Star Trek" actor William Shatner and the site's name-your-price feature on its namesake website that allowed travelers to bid on flights. (The company said in 2016 it was ending that feature.)

After surviving the dot-com bust, the company grew, acquiring other online reservation sites, including Bookings B.V. in 2005 and travel search engine Kayak in 2013. The next year it bought restaurant reservation site OpenTable.

Booking Holdings' CEO Glenn Fogel said the name change aims to reflect the importance of its largest brand — reservation site Booking.com, which he said has more than 1.5 million listed properties — and its diverse global footprint.

Booking.com had the second-largest travel agency brand share last year globally at 3.9 percent, behind only Chinese travel giant Ctrip, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International. As an entire company, the Priceline Group was second last year worldwide in market share behind Expedia, Euromonitor data showed.

Hotel and vacation rentals are higher-margin businesses than selling flights, as airline commissions have shriveled and carriers try to drive more traffic to their own websites, where they also offer co-branded credit cards and vacation packages. JetBlue last year said it was pulling its fares from a dozen, smaller online travel sites.

Priceline and its competitors have also beefed up their listings of vacation rentals in recent years as Airbnb and such accommodations in general became more popular. Like Priceline, Airbnb has grown from a room-and-home rental platform to offer neighborhood tours, activities and concerts.

Priceline isn't the only company that has renamed itself to reflect a changing business model. In December, Walmart said it was dropping the word "stores" from its official name as its focus shifted to e-commerce.