Technology Priceline believes it has edge on Expedia in vacation rentals By Johanna Jainchill / May 10, 2017 Share 1 -- The Priceline Group plans to continue its efforts to bolster alternative accommodations, all of which are instantly bookable, something CEO Glenn Fogel feels is an advantage. Fogel spoke to the topic during the company's first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday.Fogel said Priceline's Booking.com platform has more than 640,000 instantly bookable vacation rentals, which represents year-over-year growth of 51%. Booking.com's total properties represent around 25.5 million rooms, with 8 million of those in alternative accommodations like homes, villas and apartments.Answering an analyst's question on how to drive further growth in the vacation rental segment, Fogel said that the company does not charge travelers fees to book vacation rentals, and that all of its vacation rentals are instantly bookable."We think that's an advantage," he said, adding that Priceline will continue to build its portfolio of alternative accommodations.Fogel said Priceline's alternative accommodations business is "growing faster than the overall average for the entire company." Priceline's main competitor, Expedia Inc., offers a portfolio of vacation rentals through its HomeAway brand. During the company's most recent earnings call in late April, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said about 85% of the properties from HomeAway are bookable online (about 1.4 million)."Then we're also making the transition over from online bookable to instant bookable," Khosrowshahi said. "That's still earlier and we think that the move to instant booking will continue to be a tailwind as it relates to overall conversion rates."In addition to discussing alternative accommodations on Priceline's call, Fogel also addressed an analyst's question about whether the company has seen any impact from rhetoric from the Trump administration and its attempted travel bans."We have not seen a material impact from political events in the U.S.," Fogel said.Additionally, Fogel announced that CFO Dan Finnegan, who spoke Wednesday on his 33rd earnings call, plans to retire. Finnegan has been with Priceline for 14 years, and Fogel said he will remain with the company as it embarks upon a search for his successor.In the first quarter of 2017, Priceline's net income increased 22% to $456 million. Its gross profit increased 16% to $2.3 billion.