Mark Okerstrom, the president and CEO at Expedia, opened the recent company event with a rousing speech.
“We are now the largest travel platform, covering 75 countries in all segments of travel. We are truly sitting at the centre of the industry and the rebranding of the group as well is an articulation of our purpose and clarification of our strategy.”
With its purpose being to “bring the world within reach”, the group is certainly within reach of becoming the world’s first $100b travel company. In the 12 months ended Q3 2018, total gross bookings reached $97.5b, on a tech spend of $1.5b and sales and marketing spend of $5.7b.
And while 2019 may bring challenges such as concern over trade wars, the slowing down of China, the mixed outlook on Europe and volatility in Latin America, the group remains optimistic about the year ahead.
With travel growing ahead of GDP, and a rise in consumer confidence, Okerstrom said there were strong fundamentals in travel. Car business is still growing, despite talk of how ride-sharing would impact it; there are destinations that are showing air ticket sales growth of 50%, and the shift from offline to online continues to grow, with a current global average of 44% penetration, according to Phocuswright figures.
Adding to the optimistic outlook, Alan Pickerill, CFO of Expedia Group, said that other than the massive potential yet to be tapped in the $1.6 trillion global travel market, the lodging business was powering ahead with the group achieving 14% year on year growth to reach 343.5m room nights as of Q3 2018.
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