Earnings Reports Reveal Surge for Expedia and Booking, While Google’s Trial and IHG Innovations Make Waves in Travel

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It is earnings season, which makes for a longer Update than usual:

  • Expedia Enjoys Strong Third Quarter Results.  While I am still working my way through the recent Expedia Group earnings call transcript, news of the recent quarter has been uniformly positive.  Expedia reported strong results (quarterly records in both revenue and EBITDA and a third quarter record in gross hotel bookings ($18.5 billion)) and even stronger results for its growing B2B business ($995 million in revenue, up 26% year over year and a quarterly record).  During the third quarter earnings call, Expedia CEO, Peter Kern, was optimistic about the prospects for the platform’s business now that its unified loyalty program OneKey and technology platform is complete.
  • Booking Holdings Also Enjoys a Strong Third Quarter.  Expedia’s largest competitor, Booking Holdings, also enjoyed a record third quarter.  Booked room nights and gross booking value ($39.8 billion) set new quarterly records.  Beyond hotel room accommodations, flights featured prominently in Bookings’ third quarter results with the platform selling 9 million flights during the quarter.
  • Google’s Anti-Trust Trial:  The Gift That Keeps Giving.  Over the past month, we have featured multiple stories detailing the testimony of various OTA executives at the ongoing Google anti-trust trial.  This past week, the comments of Expedia Group Chairman (and outspoken spokesman), Barry Diller, surfaced in the ongoing proceedings.  According to the reports, the comments were made by Diller back in 2019 when he claimed that he was “on the edge of a revolt” over Google’s increased monetization (e.g., paid display advertising) of its search results.  According to Diller, the increasing numbers of paid ads was punitive to Expedia and anyone else relying on a level search playing field. 
  • Another Week and Another Story on Scammers Leveraging Booking.com’s Messaging Platform.  This week’s story comes to us from Singapore.
  • IHG’s Attribute Based Bookings Are Here.  While IHG’s effort to offer guests attribute-based booking functionality has long been the subject of industry reports (including our own Update), it appears that the functionality is now available, with new functions coming.  Through the IHG app, guests can now book rooms based on their location and view.  IHG hotels will soon also be able to offer add-ons (e.g., prepaid parking, food and beverage credits) to guests booking on the app.  According to IHG, offering these attributes presents an entirely new revenue opportunity for its properties.  It will be interesting to watch how third party platforms respond to attribute based bookings and pricing, which present an entirely new meaning to rate and availability parity.
Greg Duff

Greg Duff is a Principal at Foster Garvey. Greg is Chair of the firm's national Hospitality, Travel and Tourism practice, which is directed at the variety of matters faced by hospitality and travel industry members, including purchase and sales agreements, management agreements, sales and marketing, distribution, privacy and data security, procurement and technology. Throughout Greg’s 25+ year career working in the hospitality industry, he has dedicated himself to helping clients solve the range of legal issues associated with operating a modern hospitality operation – from negotiating management and other operational agreements to advising on the myriad of issues associated with sales distribution and online travel.

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