- Sales growth remains high at plus 37% to Euro 15.9 million
- EBIT improves by around 25% in first half and around 85%
in 2nd quarter
- International growth especially strong
Nuremberg, 14 August 2008 - hotel.de AG, one of the leading online reservation services for worldwide hotel accommodation, has reported a strong first-half business performance. The company increased its sales to Euro 15.9 million, equivalent to growth of 37.0% (H1 2007: Euro 11.6 million). The international business in particular performed very robustly, boosting its sales by 63.8% from Euro 4.6 million to Euro 7.6 million in the first six months of 2008. The company raised its operating earnings (EBIT) by 24.7% to Euro 0.7 million (H1 2007: Euro 0.5 million). The net surplus for the period also improved, showing slight growth of 4.5% to Euro 0.5 million (H1 2007: Euro 0.5 million).
The 2nd quarter was especially strong, indicating that benefits of scale are beginning to kick in. The company achieved substantial growth in both sales and all key earnings figures. Sales revenues rose by around 37.6% from Euro 6.5 million to Euro 8.9 million, while earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) grew by 85.7% to Euro 0.7 million (Q2 2007: Euro 0.4 million). The net surplus for the period also rose by a substantial 38.0% to Euro 0.5 million in the 2nd quarter.
Measures to enhance sales and margins take effect
Sales and EBIT have both benefited from the introduction of various measures. "Launching password-free booking has enabled us to increase the activity shown by occasional bookers and to tap additional sales potential", commented Dr. Heinz Raufer, CEO of hotel.de AG. According to Nielsen Netratings, alongside bahn.de and TUI, hotel.de was among the top ten travel sites for German internet users once more in June and was thus again the online hotel portal with the highest number of visitors. Not only that, commission bidding, i.e. the auctioning of top listing positions on the results pages at hotel.de/hotel.info is meeting with increasing acceptance from hotel customers, as are the higher minimum commission levels already successfully introduced for the majority of hotels and due to be completed in the fourth quarter.
"Our efficiency enhancement programme, which we only introduced a few weeks ago, has also led to initial optimisations in organisational and IT divisions, thus impacting positively on the personnel expenses ratio. This dropped from 45.9% to 44.9% in the first six months, an improvement of one percentage point compared with the equivalent period in the previous year", Raufer continued. To be able to handle its ongoing substantial sales growth, hotel.de increased the number of its employees from an average of 361 in the first half of 2007 to its current level of 489. As a result, personnel expenses rose by 33.9% from Euro 5.3 million to Euro 7.1 million in the first six months of 2008.
Other operating expenses, which also include marketing expenses for search engines such as Google, also rose significantly by 55,6% to Euro 7.4 million (H1 2007: Euro 4.8 million). To enhance its cost effectiveness in this area as well, hotel.de AG has strengthened its search engine optimisation programme (SEO) in recent weeks. Initial success is already apparent in terms of coverage, especially on foreign Google sites.
The measures taken to boost sales and improve margins have already shown initial success and are supporting the company’s ongoing high rate of growth. What’s more, the Management Board expects further sales growth to result from the continuing trend towards reducing the cost of business travel and from maintaining the company’s expansion strategy. "We will be stepping up our efforts to tap the South European market by opening an outlet in Italy in the second half already. Even though we have completed the majority of our investments, we will continue to invest and expand in high-growth foreign markets under our international www.hotel.info brand", added Raufer. For the financial year as a whole, the company plans to achieve sales growth of between 31% and 39% to Euro 34.0 million to Euro 36.0 million and thus to grow notably faster than the online market. Moreover, the substantial earnings growth seen in the 2nd quarter is to be maintained in the remainder of the year, leading the Management Board to expect considerable growth in the company’s operating earnings (EBIT) and annual net surplus.
hotel.de with its international brand hotel.info runs a free of charge hotel reservation service for companies and private users on www.hotel.de and www.hotel.info. The company offers 210,000 hotels worldwide to be booked online. Since January 2007, hotel.de has also been offering conferences. Compared to other booking channels, customers benefit from considerable cost savings (for business customers up to 40%). Additionally, all available rates for every single hotel are always displayed, so that the customer can choose the lowest or best-fitting rate ("Best-Buy"). Further, all bookings via hotel.de are sent right into the hotel’s computer - making a reservation fast, safe and reliable. This is enabled by hotel.de/hotel.info’s unique integration of the hotels' central reservation systems (so-called CRS) under one consistent user surface. Well-known companies, such as Procter & Gamble, SAP AG, Texas Instruments Inc. and Ernst & Young AG already use the hotel.de/hotel.info corporate application.
hotel.info is the international brand of hotel.de AG. This brand was established for pushing ahead its expansion into the European countries. In order to acquire customers and hotels abroad, offices in London, Paris and Barcelona have been set up, to be followed by other important countries. The strong customer loyalty and the high ratio of business customers facilitate hotel.info´s entry into the new markets as many foreign-based subsidiaries or parent enterprises of German companies contracted by hotel.de already have been using hotel.info. The aim is to establish hotel.info as the leading online hotel reservation service for business as well as private customers in the foreign markets mentioned and - step by step - in Europe as a whole.