Home rentals are the hottest part of the online travel-booking industry, and Expedia Group Inc. plans to make it even hotter.
After spending three years upgrading the technology of its HomeAway unit, Expedia is ready to step up its efforts to add more house listings in a bid to catch up with the scale of competitors like Airbnb Inc., Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom said in an interview.
“Phase one was just getting the platform working and getting people online,” Okerstrom said. “Phase two is about property acquisition.”
“You could look at what’s out there and some of the other numbers that other players in the industry have mentioned, I think that’s the beginning.” he said. Expedia’s HomeAway has 1.7 million online-bookable listings, while rival Booking Holdings Inc., formerly Priceline, and Airbnb each have about 5 million.
Home rentals are hard. They don’t bring the same fat profit margins online travel agencies are used to getting from hotel booking. Signing a deal with a major hotel chain brings thousands of listings onto a platform like Expedia or Booking at once, while adding home rentals often requires going after property managers who may only have a handful of listings. The key to success is building a system where hosts can add themselves without much hands-on effort by Expedia.
While Khosrowshahi had largely run Expedia as a portfolio company with different brands that sometimes competed against one another, Okerstrom is working on integrating them.
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