"Not even Google has all our data”, Expedia said

After Expedia, Priceline and TripAdvisor all hit third quarter speed bumps, some are wondering whether the incumbent online travel leaders are entering a new, less-expansive era with up-and-coming players such as Airbnb, Google and Ctrip, for example, poised to assert a new dominance.

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Expedia Inc. CEO Mark Okerstrom, said that Expedia is the largest “and only truly global platform” and will use that position to its advantage. 

In the third quarter, Expedia edged the Priceline Group in gross bookings, but Priceline was far more profitable.

Okerstrom said Expedia is engaged in rebuilding its businesses. For example, HomeAway, which he said has a “massive opportunity,” is adding vacation rentals, making investments in technology and marketing, and opening new points of sale, he said.

Asia is a big part of Expedia’s strategy, although Okerstrom acknowledged he’d like Expedia one day to have a larger presence in China’s domestic travel market. Expedia’s business in Japan is growing 40% year over year, and the company is showing great progress in South Korea.

In an era where new technologies such as artificial intelligence and voice search are emerging, Okerstrom argued that the data that Expedia gathers from 650 million monthly site visitors is an incredible advantage because it includes not only travel intent, but also what actions users take.

”Not even Google has that” Okerstrom said.

In Expedia’s third quarter results’ discussion in October, Okerstrom announced that HomeAway wouldn’t reach previously disclosed profit targets for 2018 because of increased technology costs and marketing investments.

Trivago, too, has its challenges, having recorded an $8 million loss in the third quarter as Priceline reduced its advertising, and the hotel-search site overspent on marketing. Okerstrom said Expedia’s Trivago unit needs to “step up its game.” Trivago found itself bogged down with the fallout from platform changes as its largest advertiser, the Priceline Group, reducing advertising in Trivago.

The investor pullback from Expedia and Priceline shares after third quarter results were triggered by concerns over the rising cost of investments and margin pressures in upcoming quarters.