With the US set to open up to travellers from the UK and the rest of Europe from Monday, demand for rooms in America is surging, according to Glenn Fogel, chief executive of Booking.com.
The boss of the online organisation told The Independent: “When the US government announced they would accept vaccinated visitors I saw immediately a jump.”
From 8 November, fully vaccinated British travellers will be able to visit the US with merely a negative result from a lateral flow test, taken in the three days before departure.
Mr Fogel said that changes to travel restrictions have immediate results.
“I can tell what’s happening second by second by watching our bookings. I don’t need to read an announcement.”
He expressed some concern in the short term about rising infection rates in Europe, particularly Germany. On Thursday the country reported 34,000 new infections, a record – and one-third up on the figure a week earlier.
“We’re going to see ups and downs,” said Mr Fogel. “As I said at the start of the crisis, it will not be quarters – it will be years.”
Earlier his company, Booking Holdings Inc, reported third-quarter results for the summer months between July and September.
“We are encouraged by the signs of recovery we saw in many parts of the world in the third quarter,” he said.
The firm’s financial report said its results “have been materially and negatively impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic conditions and government restrictions”.
Booking.com has been criticised for the amount of commission it takes as an intermediary – typically 15 per cent of the room price.
Mr Fogel said: “Our job is providing value to each party.” He said Booking.com helps hotels tap into incremental demand, and also provides customer service in 40 different languages.
“We do it for free – if you get revenue we just want a small commission,” he said.
“We are paid an appropriate amount of money for what we can provide.”
Demand for flights in the week the US opens up is intense.
Some flights for next week have sold out, while fares have soared on others. The cheapest British Airways one-way flight from London Heathrow to New York on Monday is £1,731.
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