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During the 2017 Skift Global Forum in September in New York City, we heard from a host of the travel industry’s top leaders from across every sector.
And after first speaking to them on stage in front of an audience of more than 1,100, we took another few minutes with them to get more insight in our backstage Skift Take Studio.
In our behind-the-scenes conversation, Expedia president and CEO Mark Okerstrom shared his thoughts about global expansion, the opportunities ahead for its vacation rental site HomeAway, and the need for the online travel agency to get better at helping customers.
“I want to make us an inch more customer-centric,” Okerstrom said. “I think there’s a great opportunity for us to take a lot of the pain that happens in travel out by truly living up to the ‘A’ in OTA (online travel agency) and being an agent for the travelers and stepping in to solve problems.”
One thing he doesn’t see as a problem: competition in the homesharing space. Okerstrom didn’t name Airbnb specifically, but he talked about the hundred billion dollar market opportunity in alternative accommodations in North America and Europe, and said HomeAway has hundreds of thousands of properties that can be instantly booked.
“We think the opportunity is significantly larger and it’s just gaining steam,” he said. “Yes, there is a competitor in the space, but that’s life. Any time there is a huge opportunity, there’s always going to be competitors and what we’ve learned — and specifically what I’ve learned over the last 11 years in this industry — is that there’s always room for two.”