Expedia's bounceback in hotel bookings looks good — until you compare it to how many people are flocking back to Airbnb
- Expedia reported 8% growth in lodgings bookings from the same quarter in 2019.
- That progress looks good until you remember Airbnb just posted three-year growth of 73%.
The late-pandemic return to travel has obviously been good for companies supplying ways to book getaways.
However, the upside, as always, is relative.
Late Thursday, online travel agent Expedia Group reported second-quarter results that beat Wall Street's quarterly revenue and profit expectations. While the company's shares had a mostly muted response in recent Friday trading, that's somewhat of a victory considering Expedia's stock has fallen by about 50% since February.
Progress for travel-services firms has been difficult to measure since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, with whipsawing lockdowns, mask mandates, as well as sluggish attitudes toward traveling in general.
As a result, many hospitality companies are now using comparisons to 2019 in an attempt to illuminate how close to "normal" their operations are.
In its earnings report, Expedia said that its lodgings bookings rose 8% from the same quarter in 2019 to reach its highest level that Expedia has ever recorded. Given that lodging revenue accounts for about 75% of Expedia's overall revenue, it's a marker of movement in the right direction.
But one can't help but compare Expedia's performance in lodgings to the eye-popping growth in bookings that Airbnb reported on Tuesday: the rental-home-sharing company said its revenue and gross booking volume rose 73% from 2019 to its highest level ever. Airbnb also said it improved its profitability in the second quarter, earning $379 million, marking a $700 million turnaround from the same quarter in 2019.
This comparison is somewhat of a construct, given that Expedia is offering a different experience, and is certainly just one of many ways to book stays in traditional hotels.
But it also seems hard to argue with this line in Airbnb's earnings release: "Since the beginning of the pandemic, Airbnb has significantly outperformed the rest of the travel industry."
Given the latest growth numbers, that may continue to happen.
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