Expedia on track to become world’s first $100bn travel agency

Expedia is on the way to becoming the world’s first $100 billion travel agency, a landmark it will achieve in the next few years, according to its chief executive.

Dara Khosrowshahi, told the 17th annual Expedia Partner Conference in Las Vegas this week that the decision to invest heavily in technology in 2007 was critical to the firm’s rapid growth.

The global online agent is marking 20 years since it was founded as a division of the technology giant Microsoft.

More than $71 billion is currently transacted annually across Expedia’s many travel brands including the recently integrated Orbitz and Cheaptickets.

Khosrowshahi said Expedia was seeing 30% year on year revenue growth. “We are certainly growing at very very high rates.
“Our goal is to become the first $100 billion travel agency in the world. That is a goal we will achieve within the next couple of years.”

Growth will come from expansion in international market which currently account for a third of bookings but will eventually rise to two thirds.

Khosrowshahi added “absolutely first priority” was Asia Pacific markets where he said Expedia had to succeed. In these markets being ahead of the game on mobile is essential, he said.

Expedia is targeting Taiwan and South Korea as well as China but will also double investment in India where there are over one billion mainly domestic travellers who will start to travel overseas.

Expedia will seek to grow organically but also through further acquisitions, Khosrowshahi said, and he added the firm would also look to offer a broad portfolio of travel products.

“We believe in breadth and depth of travel spend and being more relevant to consumers than any other travel company,” he said.

The Orbitz Cheaptickets integration onto Expedia’s technology took just 125 days and has seen conversions on their sites increase by 60%.

“Orbitz was a great company. You can imagine the power of our platform that a great company comes on with and is able to increase conversions by 60%,” said Khosrowshahi.

As well as buying companies Expedia sees its future in opening up its technology so that partner suppliers can take advantage of it.
“That’s going to be one of the big themes going forward,” Khosrowshahi said.

This open platform approach will see more third suppliers encouraged to make their product available through the Expedia marketplace.

But Khosrowshahi said it did not want to overwhelm the consumer with choice, so it will be investing heavily in personalisation to ensure the results offered  are the right ones for the customer.

Efforts to offer a broader range of product extends to the rail sector and Expedia has just gone live in the UK ahead of an expansion across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Khosrowshahi said: “What makes rail very special is it’s a high frequency and these high frequency purchase points are gold in terms of us learning about our customers.”

Another high frequency area is mobile and Expedia is placing huge significance on devices to drive the future of travel.

“Look at your website on your phone every single day,” Khosrowshahi said. “Understand how that experience is on your phone without broadband.

“That’s how your customer is increasingly going to do business with you. We are constantly fighting the limited number of apps consumers are downloading and using.

“We have to make sure we are building the very best apps out there so consumers download it and come back to it. App users stay with us and repeat twice as much as other customers.”

Expedia is also investing in emerging platforms which consumers expect to engage with brands on like Facebook Messenger.

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