Expedia predicts ‘bumpy and inconsistent’ recovery

Expedia slumped $849 million into the red as bookings collapsed by 90% as Covid-19 hit the online travel giant in the last quarter.

Reporting results for the three months to June 30, the company revealed that cancellations in April exceeded new bookings as the virus spread globally.

“Subsequently, as the virus was contained to varying degrees in certain countries and certain travel restrictions were lifted, the decline in new bookings slowed and cancellation rates moderated,” the group said.

Total gross bookings turned positive in May and the year-on-year decline “moderated” further in June, led by growth at alternative accommodation arm Vrbo.

Revenue in Expedia’s second quarter fell by 82% to $566 million from $3.1 billion in the same period last year.

The group raised $1.25 billion in July to bolster its balance sheet.

The company revealed that its business travel arm Egencia has launched a  ‘virtual agent’ in the US and France “to drive increased efficiency in customer service”.

Expedia said: “Several functions typically handled by customer services agents such as accessing itineraries and confirmations and making cancellations can now be handled by the virtual agent.”

Chief executive Peter Kern said: “The second quarter of 2020 represented likely the worst quarter the travel industry has seen in modern history and Expedia was of course not spared.

“However, after the bottom of the trough in April, we saw consistent improvement in gross bookings through May and June with cancellations moderating.

“It is clear though that it will be a bumpy and inconsistent recovery with virus numbers being volatile around the globe and country and region restrictions changing all the time.”

He added: “We cannot control these short term changes in demand, so we are instead focused on our needed long term strategic work.

“By reshaping and simplifying our organisation we have put ourselves in position to optimise our brands, our data, and our platform technologies.

“These changes have also allowed us to streamline our business as we look to drive significant efficiency across the company.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our team, I am confident we are on track to come out of the pandemic in a much better place.”


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