Expedia Talks Corporate Travel, Google

Expedia executives on Thursday discussed strong performance for Egencia, the company's corporate travel division, and conveyed a somewhat bipolar perspective on Google. [more]

Regarding Egencia, Expedia CFO Michael Adler said growth is evident across all market segments and geographies. "We are seeing much faster growth rates than the industry is experiencing," he said during a Thursday conference call with analysts. He noted that gross bookings during the third quarter "grew 40-plus percent," while American Express "grew about 20 percent. So we feel like we are taking share." Growth, Adler added, is coming both from existing accounts and new client business.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi added that Egencia is performing strongly in the small-market segment and among larger companies, noting that new accounts include "the U.S. and Canadian divisions of Procter & Gamble, and Nasdaq."

Overall, Egencia's third-quarter revenue jumped 28 percent year over year to $35 million and operating income before amortization was $3 million.

"Given the strong performance of the Egencia business and the huge opportunity we see there, we are also looking at tuck-in acquisitions for Egencia, as well," Adler added.

Regarding overall market conditions, "we are seeing corporate travel come back pretty nicely," Khosrowshahi said. "We are seeing some tightness in occupancy and [hotel average daily rate] strength in some of the metropolitan markets where you see business travel--New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc."

Meanwhile, when asked about Expedia's participation in the coalition established to oppose Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software, Khosrowshahi said: "Google is a great partner of ours. We do think it's just a bad idea to put together the dominant search engine on a worldwide basis with a dominant airline search technology. It has the potential to squeeze out competition in the marketplace. It's bad for advertisers and ultimately we think it could be very bad for consumers. The coalition will certainly make its case, and we hope it's well received by the government. In the meantime, we are going to work with Google. We are a big spender there. On a tactical basis, we have a good relationship with them. We just think this transaction is a bad idea."