In a call with analysts Thursday to discuss fourth-quarter
and full-year 2018 results, Expedia Group president and CEO Mark Okerstrom highlighted the
company's focus on becoming locally relevant in markets around the world.
While Expedia Group accounts for 13% of the total travel
market in the United States and Canada, in other parts of the world it is much
less visible. It owns just 3% of the European market and 2% in both Asia
Pacific and Latin America.
Okerstrom says Expedia is working aggressively to change
that, starting with delivering better products and services for travelers in
those parts of the world.
"We've been, up until 15 months ago, going with really
much more of a land-grab strategy where we were expanding simultaneously, 30 to
60 countries around the world, depending on what brand you are looking at,"
"The approach now is really this focused strategy...
making sure we have incredibly easy to use websites that have great
descriptions and photos, all translated into local tone of voice, promotional
offers that talk about things that are locally relevant in a similar way that
we do in the U.S.
"We've got all of the lodging and inventory on our sites,
we've got local payment types and then we layer on good marketing with
locally-relevant messages, both performance marketing and brand channels. That's
the recipe for success."
Expedia Group finished 2018 on the upswing, reporting double-digit growth in
bookings, revenue, adjusted net income and adjusted EBITDA for the full year
compared to 2017.
The diverse online travel company reported that gross
bookings increased 13% year over year to nearly $100 billion for 2018.
Revenue grew nearly as much (12%) compared to 2017, to $11.2
billion, split nearly evenly between domestic and international growth.
Adjusted net income was up 33% and adjusted EBITDA was up 15%.
There are now more than 1 million properties on Expedia
Group's core lodging platform. About 200,000 of those were added in 2018, roughly
twice the amount added in 2017.
More than 370,000 of the properties on the platform are
integrated from HomeAway listings -- a fraction of that brand's total of more
than 1.8 million online bookable listings.
In its earnings release, the company reports the increase in
gross bookings was driven primarily by growth in Brand Expedia, HomeAway,
Hotels.com and Expedia Partner Solutions.
HomeAway was also a big driver of revenue -- up 20% in the
fourth quarter compared to the same period a year earlier and up 29% for the
Lodging makes up the bulk of the Expedia Group's revenue,
accounting for 69%, with advertising and media bringing in 10%, air 8% and all
other revenue accounting for the remaining 13%.