Cendant CEO Henry Silverman and CFO Ron Nelson discussed the online travel business on Cendant's February 8th conference call. Cendant recently purchased Orbitz, and is in process of acquiring e-bookers, transforming the growth rate of the company's travel business. In the fourth quarter, Cendant's offline travel bookings were off 20%, whereas its online bookings were up 13% (and 34% excluding Orbitz). Here's what they said about the online travel business:
...we have already renegotiated several supply contracts and began renewing partner marketing advertising deals... we have realized significant incremental benefits in both scale and pricing...
In 2005, we're focused on delivering value by beginning to realize synergies against our consumer businesses. In the first quarter, we are already experiencing reductions in our fulfillment costs at Orbitz, reductions in fraudulent transactions in CheapTickets by utilizing Orbitz's sophisticated fraud engine, and later in the quarter we plan to realize further efficiencies in consolidating our online marketing approach.
As the year progresses we will execute even more meaningful projects such as providing consolidated access to our hotel inventory across all of our consumer businesses… we anticipate CheapTickets and Lodging.com will be migrated to the Orbitz technology platform. These steps will be key drivers in leveraging the value of the combined businesses and delivering on the synergy projections in our acquisition model.
Consumer confidence, which is a leading indicator for most travel businesses, rose for a second time in January and is currently at the second highest level it has achieved since mid-2002. All of our travel businesses are projecting solid organic growth for the year, either in line or above our long-term metrics.
(Quotes are from the CCBN StreetEvents transcript.)