Expedia sets sights on new global ambitions
Online travel king Expedia is already a global force. The company has websites in over 35 languages and makes 40% of its revenue outside of the U.S. But new CEO Mark Okerstrom wants to ramp up the company’s global face again, and convince European and Asian customers to use Expedia to find hotels in their own regions. Traditionally, the bulk of the company’s business in these locations has been from American tourists travelling abroad.
Expedia’s share price has risen by 25% so far this year
SOURCE: Yahoo Finance
In an interview, Okerstrom said: “We have to do a better job being a global player – and not just global in terms of having more countries in our investor relations presentation. We are significantly under-indexed in every major market with the exception of the U.S.”
Expedia is not the only big name in online travel currently making a play for more market share. Priceline, a long-standing rival, is a dominant force in Europe, and is looking to expand in the U.S. through its Booking.com travel site. Chinese travel giant Ctrip.com has also moved into the international scene following its $1.7 billion acquisition of Scottish flight booking site Skyscanner last year.
Other companies that Expedia has to consider include Airbnb and Google. The former is in a race with Expedia-owned HomeAway, and the latter commands huge advertising revenue from the rivalry between Expedia and Priceline. Google has a travel services business itself, and makes about $14 billion annually, according to industry publication Skift. But Okerstrom is confident that the search engine giant has no plans to go into the travel business proper.
The online travel space is closely linked to new technology – mobile is already bigger than desktop, and Okerstrom thinks that connected home speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home will be huge for the industry. He sees this as a big opportunity: “The gatekeepers are more fragmented. That creates a unique opportunity for us to be the place where ultimately all travel answers can be provided.”
Dominion holds Expedia, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), and Ctrip.com in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
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