Discussing new initiatives during the recent third-quarter earnings call, Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel told analysts that the company had made its new internal FinTech unit focused on payments, along with its ‘Connected Trip’ initiative, two of the strategic cornerstones for growth as the travel industry moves away from months of COVID-related restrictions by fits and starts.

Building out an in-house payments infrastructure and bringing travel squarely into the connected economy by enabling consumers to book and pay seamlessly are both revolutionary as evolutionary steps for the 25-year-old platform behind travel brands like Priceline and KAYAK.

And by its own admission, the company still has work to do to create a global end-to-end travel ecosystem that does it all — including payments — and enables monetization in ways that were difficult, if not impossible, before.

Optimizing that ecosystem is a top priority for Booking.com senior Vice President of FinTech Daniel Marovitz and his team of 400, he recently told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster. And making it seamless has taken on increased urgency.

Good Ideas Give Way to Great Experiments

Twenty five years is a long time to beaver away at making the online travel experience better and more efficient. Seamless. And by Marovitz’s own admission, the collective “we” in payments, and the collective “we” as in the traveling public, have gotten pretty comfortable with the improvements in the experience over the last decade, in particular.

That said, behind the scenes, there remains turbulence.

“The one area that I think we haven't made a lot of progress … is the financial friction of travel. It has a few characteristics which are distinctive relative to other categories.”

The future nature of the booking and when payment is collected are chief among these frictions, characteristics of the travel experience that became front and center when cancellations surged as a result of COVID.

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