Egencia, the new Expedia Corporate Tavel
07/03/2008|10:19:00 AM|
July 02, 2008: Expedia is beefing up its corporate travel service and rebranding it “Egencia” as it seeks to catch up with rival travel companies.

The global leader in online travel has made its reputation on the back of the leisure market, but is putting its corporate travel business on the same brand footing as its three main businesses –, TripAdvisor, its travel information business, and the eponymous website.

Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive, said: “The goal is really to set this brand as an industry heavyweight to compete directly with Amex and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. We are going to expand Egencia on a global basis.”

On the timing of its brand launch, he added: “This might not seem like a time to invest in a new brand. But with Egencia, corporations are looking for ways of saving on their corporate travel spend.

“Online adoption is incredibly high and corporations are recognising that.” The move into a separate brand was recognition that the corporate travel business had “proven itself”, he added.

Expedia’s corporate travel business is the fifth-biggest travel management operation and provided the group with $1.3bn of gross bookings last year. Mr Khosrowshahi said it was growing faster in its first quarter than the rest of the group, and he described the division as “nicely profitable”.

The Seattle-based group’s market capitalisation is about $9.6bn, and generated $2.7bn of revenues last year on margins of 13.3 per cent.

On the economic climate, Mr Khosrowshahi said there was some evidence of changes in consumer behaviour, such as reducing the number of days booked from seven to six and trading down from four-star to three-star accommodation.

He said: “We do expect to see some shift as air capacity comes down.”

But the downturn plays into the hands of travel companies such as Expedia, the chief executive said. “In times of transition, consumers look for more information and research more,” Mr Khosrowshahi said. “They are going to look harder for bargains,” he added.

The Egencia business brings to Europe for the first time online check-in, rail bookings and enhanced airline services.