Priceline.com

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Priceline.com
Subsidiary
Founded 1997[1] (online 1998)
Headquarters 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut
Key people
Paul J. Hennessy, CEO, priceline.com
Parent The Priceline Group
Website Priceline.com

Priceline.com is an American company and a commercial website that claims to help users obtain discount rates for travel-related purchases such as airline tickets and hotel stays. The company is not a direct supplier of these services; instead it facilitates the provision of travel services by its suppliers to its customers. It is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, United States. Priceline.com is wholly owned by The Priceline Group.

Priceline was founded by Jay S. Walker, who left the company in 2000.[2] Hong Kong company Cheung Kong Holdings later purchased a significant portion of Priceline's stock.[3]

Paul J. Hennessy was named Chief Executive Officer of the priceline.com brand in April 2015.[4]

History[edit]

Priceline first became known for its Name Your Own Price system, where travelers would name their price for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and vacation packages. While the purchaser can select a general location, service level and price; the hotel, rental car company and/or airline (as well as the exact location of the hotel and the exact flight itinerary) is disclosed only after the purchase has gone through, with no rights to cancel.

Priceline's cut of the proceeds is the difference between the price an individual named and the price charged by the service establishment. More recently, it has added a more traditional model, called Express Deals,where travelers are presented prices but are not told the name of the establishment.[5] Travelers can still choose to name their price for airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. The number of airlines, hotels and car rental company participants in the name your own price program has increased as these suppliers utilize this opaque market Priceline created to sell their perishable inventory without lowering prices through other traditional sales channels. Priceline now also sells discounted cruises, as well as tours and attractions.

In 2002 Priceline licensed its "Name Your Own Price" travel system to eBay.

During November 2007, Priceline “permanently” eliminated all booking fees on published airfares.

In April 2014, Priceline.com Incorporated announced that it has changed its name to "the Priceline Group Inc." This corporate name change was intended to create a clear delineation between the global Priceline business.[6] Now, Priceline.com is one of six primary brands of the Priceline Group.[7]

Priceline announced in May 2015 that it would invest an additional $250 million in Chinese online travel company Ctrip to tap the fast-growing China market.[8]

Other services[edit]

Priceline.com experimented with selling gasoline and groceries under the Name Your Own Price model in 2000, at the height of the dot-com bubble, through a partially owned affiliate, WebHouse Club.

Priceline got into the online auction business with Priceline Yard Sales, where individuals would use the Priceline system to haggle for various second-hand items and trade them in person.

Priceline sold long distance telephone service and automobiles under the Name Your Own Price model.

These experiments were terminated in 2002.

Another experiment, the Name Your Own Rate system for home loans, continues under a license with EverBank.

Spokespeople[edit]

William Shatner[edit]

In 1997,[9] William Shatner became the spokesman for Priceline.com, agreeing to do the spots in exchange for stock in the company.[10] The arrangement turned out to be quite profitable for Shatner, who sold much of the stock shortly before its value plummeted in the dot-com bust and has since made approximately $600 million from Priceline.com. (This reported sum has been met with some skepticism from the financial press.[11]) An early ad campaign featuring Shatner had him belt out popular songs in spoken word, in the style of his album, The Transformed Man. He was "replaced" in 2004 by his Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner still appeared in spots for Priceline, running into Nimoy as his replacement. When that campaign ended, Shatner again became Priceline's sole spokesperson.

In 2007, an ad campaign by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners had Shatner take on the role of the Priceline Negotiator. In commercials that began airing January 22, 2012, Shatner's Negotiator character apparently dies as a bus falls off a bridge and explodes.[12] Subsequent ads have featured his "spirit," still advertising Priceline.com from beyond the grave. In August 2012, Shatner was brought back in a commercial located on a stormy, cloudy beach, parodying the end of the film Point Break. A man, apparently an investigator, stands next to Shatner. Shatner is holding a wooden surfboard, wearing a suit with shortened pants and pitching the new way of booking a hotel. He states that surfing is his life now and "we'll see where the waves take me. Sayonara!" and goes charging into the waves.

Priceline has been parodied on The Tonight Show by Jay Leno and in multiple Saturday Night Live skits. In a September 2008 SNL skit, during the opening monologue by Olympian Michael Phelps, Shatner rose from the audience to give Phelps tips on product endorsements.[citation needed]

Theresa Caputo[edit]

In June 2012, Theresa Caputo, star of the television show Long Island Medium, appeared in a commercial for Priceline.com, in which she portrayed herself "connecting" with the late Priceline Negotiator character previously played by William Shatner.[13] However, this commercial has sparked controversy, since the commercial appears to make light of the Native American belief of smudging.[14]

JREF President DJ Grothe released an open letter calling out Priceline.com for endorsing Caputo, stating, "It is difficult to watch the show and not feel heartbroken for those who are desperate to hear from the departed... and even more so if they are being manipulated by a charlatan." Grothe urges Priceline.com to "invite... your new representative" to take the James Randi Million Dollar challenge and prove her credentials.[15]

Kaley Cuoco[edit]

In January 2013, Kaley Cuoco from the sitcom The Big Bang Theory joined William Shatner as his fictitious daughter in Priceline.com commercials.[16]

Criticisms[edit]

Priceline does not include resort fee amounts in the bidding. Therefore, it's possible to win a bid for a hotel and then be forced to pay mandatory resort fees (for example, often $25 per night for resort hotels in Las Vegas).[17] Priceline continues this practice despite a 2012 warning to the industry from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).[18] The FTC continues to state the following regarding how hotels and third parties should disclose such fees:

Listing the “resort fee” near the quoted price or in the fine print — or referring to other fees that “may apply” — isn’t good enough.[19]

Priceline is one of the companies accused of using the services of Wiki-PR, a public relations firm specialized in editing of Wikipedia that has been accused of subverting Wikipedia content for business interest.[20][21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Priceline.com Incorporated Rankings". Hoovers. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 
  2. ^ Post, Tom (September 18, 2012). "Priceline.com Cofounder Jay Walker On Turning The Art Of Giving Into A Systematic Business". Forbes. 
  3. ^ "Ownership". MSN Money. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=79316288&ticker=PCLN&previousCapId=1340119&previousTitle=Booking.com%20Limited
  5. ^ Terry Gardner (June 27, 2012). "Priceline introduces Express Deals for hotels". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ "Priceline.com Incorporated Announces Corporate Name Change". The Priceline Group. April 1, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Priceline.com". The Priceline Group. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ankit Ajmera (26 May 2015). "Priceline to invest additional $250 million in China's Ctrip.com". Reuters. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/154000320/4029964.html
  10. ^ Carlson, Nicholas (May 4, 2010). "William Shatner Has Made $600 Million Shilling Priceline.com". Business Insider. 
  11. ^ "William Shatner Lives Long and Prospers -- but Did He Really Make $600 Million?". DailyFinance. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ Elber, Lynn (January 19, 2012). "Goodbye to William Shatner — again". News & Record. Associated Press. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  13. ^ "TV's Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo Channels The Dearly Departed Negotiator In New Priceline.com TV Spot". Reuters. June 25, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Priceline: Remove the Long Island Medium smudging commercial from the air". Change.org. 
  15. ^ Grothe, DJ (August 13, 2012). "Priceline.com: Will You Prove Your Spokesperson Worthy for a Million Dollars?". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Kaley Cuoco joins Shatner in Priceline ads". USA Today. January 9, 2013. 
  17. ^ Hotels add resort fees to priceline
  18. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/28/travel/hotels-resort-fees-warning/index.html
  19. ^ http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0046-travel-tips
  20. ^ "Is Wikipedia for Sale? | Motherboard". motherboard.vice.com. 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  21. ^ Arthur, Charles (21 November 2013). "Wikipedia sends cease-and-desist letter to PR firm offering paid edits to site". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2013. Among companies whose entries are said to have been edited by the company are those for Priceline and the communications company Viacom 

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