Priceline announced its latest big score—the acquisition of Manchester, U.K.-based TravelJigsaw, one of the largest car rental-only OTAs in the world. This latest addition to its portfolio expands Priceline’s European dominance of online hotel properties to the car rental market. Since acquiring Active Hotels and Bookings B.V. in 2004 and 2005, respectively (and merging them into Booking.com), Priceline has become the largest online hotel aggregator in Europe. Adding car rental to its offerings is a natural—and lucrative—extension to that business in Europe and beyond.
TravelJigsaw serves customers via local car rental brands and URLs in more than 30 markets spanning Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa and other parts of the globe. It also operates a call center in Manchester with native speakers in all markets served. It sources inventory from over 70 countries and 6,000 locations, and by incorporating the opaque model offers competitive rates often not available via other retail channels.
With the TravelJigsaw acquisition, Priceline has the potential to become a global leader in car rental, further separating itself from Expedia. Expedia barely led Priceline with 30% share of the European online travel agency market vs. Priceline’s 27% share in 2008. The European car rental market surpassed €9 billion in 2009, but only about one quarter is currently distributed online, indicating significant opportunity. This latest deal should put Priceline solidly in first place in Europe, with leadership in other parts of the world not too far behind.