Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi had a laugh when asked if emerging travel companies like Airbnb were likely to eat Expedia’s lunch any time soon in the online travel marketplace.
“Not yet,” replied Khosrowshahi, “I’m very well fed.”
He also said at the Skift Global Forum 2016 in New York City Tuesday that the very notion that hotel companies like Marriott International and airlines are at war with online travel booking sites is a mistaken way to look at the sector.
“There is a mischaracterization that this is a war,” said Khosrowshahi. “Every business is trying to optimize for themselves over the long term. We understand when we talk to hotels that there is a conflict of interest- they have to pay our listing fee and a franchise fee.” He went on to discuss that hotel loyalty programs are an area where online booking sites like Expedia and hotel chains can partner to build positive results for both parties.
Khosrowshahi shed light on executive turnover at recent Expedia acquisition HomeAway this morning. HomeAway co-founder and CEO Brian Sharples has stepped down from his CEO post to a chairman role, and he is being as CEO replaced by longtime Expedia veteran John Kim, who before coming to HomeAway headed product at brand Expedia.
Sharples will remain as HomeAway chairman through January 2017.
“HomeAway is being run very independently, it has its very own tech stack and team in Austin,” said Khosrowshahi. “That said the thesis behind us bringing HomeAway into the Expedia family is to move it from a media-only model to a transactional model… John Kim built that for us on the Expedia side.”
Finally, when asked about the recent valuation of Airbnb at around $30 billion, nearly doubling Expedia’s $17.1 billion market cap, Khosrowshahi said that private companies are being valued on growth metrics more than proven business performance.
“I think the private markets are valued on fairly different metrics than public markets, because interest rates are so low and the value of dollar is high,” said Khosrowshahi. “Any company that shows very high growth rates like Airbnb is going to have very substantial valuations.”
In other words: Is Airbnb really worth more than Expedia? Not really.