27 Apr 2018

HomeAway and Easter help Expedia in early 2018

Expedia Group has reported a good start to the year with bookings, revenue and, room-night growth in room nights across its major brands.

During an earnings call, CEO Mark Okerstrom says results for the first quarter of 2018 were helped by the timing of Easter as he announced and increase of 15% in gross bookings to $27.2 billion as well as 15% increase in revenue to $2.5 billion.

Total room nights for the quarter also increased 15% with HomeAway highlighted as particularly strong showing a 36% increase in room nights year-on-year as well as revenue growth of 26%.

Room for growth

Expedia says new properties were added at a greater rate in recent months with 50,000 properties added to the portfolio while 25,000 HomeAway vacation rental properties were made available via the group’s core online travel agency brands.

The company says it now offers more than 665,00 properties in its core lodging portfolio.

Like other big online travel brands, Expedia see huge opportunity in the area of alternative accommodation and the company puts HomeAway’s negative figure of $21 million in adjusted EBITDA down to investment in performance-based marketing.

Tour de Force

The company was asked to declare its hand in the tours & activity space given the acquisitions in recent days of FareHarbor by Booking Holdings and Bokun by TripAdvisor.

Asked about how it might position tours through its shopping and booking flow, Okerstrom says:

“We feel good about our current position in activities. It is a place where we’ve highlighted over the course of the last six months or so where we’re interested in stepping up our efforts. We do have a things-to-do or activities business that in total is north of $0.5 billion in bookings in Q1. It grew north of 20% year-over-year in terms of transactions.”

He went on to describe tours as “big business and growing nicely” but where there is further opportunity.

“I think inclusion in shopping cart or a shopping cart-type product is certainly something we’re looking at as we continue to roll out the functionality of that product. I think there’s a big standalone opportunity. I think the fact that our brands have, I think, now over 250 some odd million app downloads, gives us the opportunity to make offers in destination. We’ve already got the connection with the customer.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufman in its 2017 full-year financial report. He spoke of the opportunity teaching to book attractions in advance or in-destination via mobile.

Okerstrom also talked about Expedia’s organic position in tours currently but added that there are always M&A opportunities and that the company would be “very disciplined in looking at those and we’ll be opportunistic.”

The notable challenge for the quarter was metasearch player Trivago which saw a 3% dip in revenue and has seen its share price hit.

Going forward the group says it is still expecting  EBITDA growth according to its guidance of 6% to 11%.