A lot of CEOs say they will maintain the policies of their predecessors. But when huge challenges surface, it will be up to Okerstrom to be his own guy, and chart a new course when necessary.
You can expect Mark Okerstrom, Expedia Inc.’s new president and CEO, to stay the course, for the most part, of his predecessor, Dara Khosrowshahi, who now has the chief executive’s office at Uber.
In a conference call wth the press Wednesday afternoon from Washington State, Okerstrom said he doesn’t have a long list of “Gee, when Dara leaves,” he’ll do this or that.
One reason is because as CFO since 2011, Okerstrom has been involved in all the big decision regarding strategy and acquisitions. So, for the most part, Khosrowshahi’s strategy has been Okerstrom’s, as well.
Asked about Expedia’s stated goal to “go global” in 2017, Okerstrom said mergers and acquisitions “are in our DNA,” and he can envision being opportunistic about them along with trying to accelerate organic growth.
A key priority is finding solutions to getting better at “solving unique local challenges,” he said, such as expanding in emerging markets such as India.
Okerstrom also sees a huge potential for growth in adding hotel inventory around the world, adding that Expedia likely has only one-third of the world’s hotels wired up.
Not surprisingly, Okerstrom said he envisions a closer relationship with Uber, which he called complementary to Expedia’s travel services, now that his boss until today takes up the ride-sharing mission.
There will be plenty of opportunity to talk to Uber’s new boss about that because Khosrowshahi will remain a member of Expedia’s board.
Whether it’s hotels, car rentals or tours and activities, Okerstrom said he’s “super-excited about the prospects ahead.”
It’s an interesting time for the online travel industry: The CEOs of the two largest companies, Glenn Fogel at the Priceline Group, and Okerstrom at Expedia, are very experienced hands at their respective companies, but newbies in the CEO slot.
They will both be tested.
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Photo credit: Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom speaking at an event in early 2017. Expedia