China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal

Premium DIY travel site for Chinese going overseas smashes equity crowdfunding goal,  Paul Bischoff

Up until a few years ago, most travellers from China were relegated to group tours – packed onto planes and buses with at least a dozen other tourists, led around on a strict schedule by a guide with a flag and loudspeaker.

But China’s younger generations, with their growing incomes and fewer travel restrictions, are quickly shifting to DIY travel, which offers more flexibility and freedom than group tours. As a result, a huge wave of startups have cropped up to serve their needs. Now the highly-fragmented market is nearing its saturation point.

“It is true that China’s DIY market is already very hot and is trending towards over-saturation,” says Robin Shao, CEO and founder of Directions Travel. “But we believe that this is more of a ‘quantity’ over-saturation, rather than a ‘quality’ saturation. There are a lot of companies out there doing this, but they are not necessarily meeting the needs of consumers.”

Directions has two core competitive strengths, Shao says. The first is that the start-up reaches out to people who have unique experiences and hobbyists in certain fields to introduce unique attractions, restaurants, and accommodation. “We source our trip ideas from individuals who have on the ground experience,” he explains. “On our site, users can learn about these people and their background to pick out the one that best matches their interests.”

Secondly, Directions uses these human resources to cater to customers who want unique experiences. “Though the independent travel market is hot, there are very few companies that are willing to put in the effort to create products that meet specific needs,” Shao says.

But what constitutes a “unique” experience is rather subjective, and Directions doesn’t seem to tackle the most empirical deciding factor for most travellers: cost. Whether the promise of quality can outweigh customers’ budget concerns in this highly competitive market will be critical to the startup’s success.

The company focuses on mid- to high-end customers travelling overseas. Some of Directions’ destinations include the US, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Latin America. Competing travel sites include Lvmama, LY.com, ByeCity, Ctrip, Qunar, Aoliday, Woqu, Tuniu, and many, many more.

An invested crowd

Directions was chosen as one of the 11 inaugural startups to raise funding through ecommerce site JD’s new equity crowdfunding platform. In equity crowdfunding, backers actually take a slice of equity in the company they support in contrast to the rewards-based Kickstarter model. The crowdinvesting site just launched earlier this week, and Directions has already doubled its RMB 2.5 million (US$403,000) goal, surpassing it within the first 24 hours.

“We believed that it would be a fast, efficient way to raise money,” Shao says. “For an early startup, the first fund is the most important one, but you cannot spend too much time raising it or you might run out of money before you make it.”

Venture capital is no longer the exclusive right of big organizations, Shao says. The equity crowdfunding model also helps attract early supporters. ” If they are willing to invest some funds into us, then they will certainly be willing to help us promote and improve our products.”

On top of that, it also just announced an RMB 1.5 million (US$242,000) seed investment from Gobi VC. Gobi’s Shanghai-based venture partner Michael Zhu says the firm is enthusiastic about the equity crowdfunding model. “As an early stage VC, Gobi believes that the industry should embrace this type of innovative crowdfunding model. It empowers society, it helps startups grow and improves transparency within the VC industry.”

Gobi also invested in another startup that successfully raised funds on JD, spicy seafood delivery company Jacky’s Shrimp. Zhu says the exposure a startup gets through this sort of platform is a huge bonus.

“Usually, a seed stage investment may experience difficulty in getting the word out, especially with how active China’s early stage investment scene is these days. It really builds momentum,” he says. “We are also able to raise more money for the company than we would normally be able to at this stage of growth.”

Zhu says the the results exceeded his expectations as both companies surpassed their investment goals by over 150 percent in under 24 hours, each with a couple months remaining.

Directions will put the fresh funds toward new products, optimizing existing products, and conducting on-the-ground inspections of its trip packages. It will also spend some cash on improving its IT system and on marketing.

Editing by Malavika Velayanikal

via China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal.

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline)  Steve Symington

With the advent of online travel sites, it’s never been easier to book a quick vacation, business trip, or even a spontaneous jaunt for almost anywhere in the world. Though the online travel industry is relatively young, it’s still growing quickly, with dozens of viable sites ready to make your trip happen.

The sites with the most loyal customers stand to grab the biggest share of this market as Internet usage increases around the world. But maintaining customer loyalty is even more challenging in markets like the United States, where online travel is becoming second nature as nearly 90% of the population is already online.

Thanks to online travel sites, resorts like this are just a click away.

This of course begs the question, which travel site are Americans the most loyal to?

Thanks to prominent advertising campaigns, several incorrect names might immediately come to mind. Take the various sites operated by Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), for example, which notably include priceline.com, KAYAK, booking.com, rentalcars.com, and — thanks to a $2.6 billion acquisition last year — even restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable. Since it was founded in 1997, Priceline has enjoyed the charisma of spokesman William Shatner talking up its negotiating skills, while KAYAK earns business by comparing the prices of “hundreds” of travel sites at once.

Collectively, these businesses helped Priceline Group achieve $50.3 billion in total gross bookings last year alone. And with a market capitalization higher than $61 billion as of this writing, it’s no surprise Priceline regularly calls itself the “world leader in online accommodation reservations.” But “world leader” or not, none of Priceline’s sites are tops in customer loyalty.

Or how about Hotwire? Specific financial details are scarce for the privately held site, but Hotwire earns customers by selling off unsold travel inventory at a huge discount, saving people planeloads of cash on all their travel needs from airfare to hotels, rental cars, and comprehensive travel packages.

Unfortunately, though, even Hotwire’s approach doesn’t translate to the most loyal users. It’s not Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), either — though we’re getting closer.

Travelocity’s roaming gnome, Credit: Travelocity

Love for the Roaming Gnome

According to the 19th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, American consumers are most loyal to a travel site acquired by Expedia less than two months ago: Travelocity.com. On January 23, 2015, Expedia paid $280 million in cash to buy Travelocity from travel-technology specialist Sabre (NASDAQ: SABR), which itself was a subsidiary of American Airlines until being spun off in 2000.

According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff, 2015 was Travelocity’s first year atop its category in loyalty. And this year’s results were driven by the brands’ abilities to “identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values.”  So why do Americans specifically love Travelocity so much?

A little focus goes a long way

First, keep in mind that Travelocity signed a strategic marketing agreement with Expedia in mid-2013. Per the terms of that deal, Expedia agreed to take the reins of the technology platform powering Travelocity’s U.S. and Canadian websites. In exchange, Expedia received performance-based marketing fees that varied based on the amount of travel booked through those Travelocity-branded sites.

Travelocity’s #IWannaGo campaign was wildly successful, Credit: Travelocity.

While this meant less revenue for Travelocity at the time, it also greatly improved the site’s profitability by drastically lowering operating costs. In its most recently reported quarter as part of Sabre, for instance, Travelocity’s adjusted revenue fell nearly 45% year over year, to $89 million, while adjusted EBITDA skyrocketed 116% to $16 million. Without the need to focus on maintaining its technology platform, Travelocity was free to redirect those resources toward promoting its brand — something it arguably did more effectively than any of its deep-pocketed rivals, anyway.

Take Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” mascot, for example, whose offbeat TV spots have been at the heart of its viral advertising efforts for more than a decade. But starting in 2013, Travelocity also began using the gnome to engage consumers on a personal level with a wildly successful social media campaign centered around the hashtag #IWannaGo.

By following the @roaminggnome handle on Twitter or Instagram, then using the hashtag to tell Travelocity where you wanted to go, you were automatically entered to win a chance to make your travel dreams come true. Then. last year, Travelocity built on that momentum by combining the hashtag with its new “Go & Smell the Roses” tag line.

According to Travelocity chief marketing officer Bradley Wilson: “‘Go & Smell the Roses’ is more than a tag line in an advertising campaign, it’s a rally cry. […] We are using our most powerful asset, the iconic Roaming Gnome, to inspire and instigate people to get off the couch, to go and smell the roses.”

If Brand Keys’ latest Loyalty Index is any indication, Travelocity’s efforts to connect to customers on an emotional level are obviously proving effective in its core American market. If it can translate that good work under Expedia’s wing to inspire people around the world, something tells me Expedia’s $280 million purchase price will look brilliant in the end.

via You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse

Engagement Labs, the technology and data company, has recently released the social media rankings of the top performing hotel chains, airlines, online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites.

The rankings are based on Engagement Labs’ eValue scores, which take into account three factors: Engagement, Impact and Responsiveness.

Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices

The top three hospitality companies on Twitter are (in order) Hyatt Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Trump Hotel Collection. Hyatt was highlighted for using highly visual vacation-related content and the use of creative hashtags.

The top three Facebook marketers in the hotel industry are The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. Ritz-Carlton stood out based on its regular engagement with travelers and its posting of images and facts of its resorts.

“As social media is increasingly becoming an all-purpose communication tool, the hotel industry excels by providing real-time information to their customers on their social media channels,” said Bryan Segal, chief executive officer of Engagement Labs, via a release. “Companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and Hyatt Hotels utilize their social media channels to provide up-to-date resort news and industry information as a one stop shop for their audiences.”

American Airlines, United Airlines and Alaska Airlines led carriers in Twitter marketing. American Airlines also was No. 1 in Facebook marketing, followed by Island Air and Delta Air Lines.

On Twitter, American Airlines was adept at responding to consumer postings and weaving in topical news and events to drive interest, according to Engagement Labs.

On Facebook, American Airlines received a high eValue score for updating travelers on company information and relating major news and events back to the airline industry (to celebrate Women’s History Month, the major carrier asked Facebook followers to share stories about female American Airlines members who exemplified premier customer service).

In terms of the travel aggregators (OTAs and metasearch sites), Hotels.com, OneTravel and CheapOair were the top Twitter marketers (parent company Fareportal owns both OneTravel and CheapOair). Hotels.com was highlighted for using Twitter to dish out the latest deals and promotions, as well as posting travel tips and trivia to boost engagement.

BookIt.com, Orbitz Worldwide and Travelocity were the top three Facebook marketers. BookIt.com scored highly in large part because the site posted articles that included travel ideas, tips for things to do in particular destinations, and contests for their followers to win trips to different destinations.

Travelers on social media “want convenience, trusted brands and good deals,” Segal said. “Social media is a key resource to help consumers navigate the complexity of travel today. We see marketers optimizing social channels to enhance user experience, customer satisfaction and develop trust and loyalty with their audiences.”

Engagement Labs’ eValue Analytics leverages more than 300 conventional social media metrics to produce a single benchmarked score, analyzing more than 75,000 handpicked, verified brands that include marketers, advertisers, publishers and broadcasters around the world.

via Travel Companies Ranked on Best Social Media Practices | TravelPulse.

Expedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying – CBS News

Expedia logoExpedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying

When Online travel service Expedia (EXPE) announced plans to buy smaller rival Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) for $1.3 billion, it became the latest consolidation in the $444 billion online travel industry. Shares of both companies surged on the news. In afternoon trading Expedia was up nearly 17 percent, and Orbitz had shot almost 22 percent higher.

On the takeover news, shares of other travel sites also took off. TripAdvisor (TRIP) rose nearly 24 percent, and Home Away (AWAY) was trading 7 percent higher, indicating that investors see more industry deals on the horizon. Even industry giant Priceline (PCLN) was up more than 3 percent. Companies outside the U.S. are especially attractive to the larger players, analysts say.

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia will pay $12 per share in cash for Orbitz, which is headquartered in Chicago. That’s a 29 percent increase over Orbitz’ average trading price during the previous five days. The deal would add Orbitz to Expedia’s already-formidable lineup of online travel brands, which include Hotels.com, Trivago and Hotwire, and promises to ratchet up competition in an industry where it’s already intense.

“It was just a matter of who would buy Orbitz and when,” said Henry H. Harteveldt, founder and travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, in an interview. “Orbitz just really didn’t have a clear marketing direction. They have just been kind of an aimless brand for the past three or four years. ”

Orbitz CEO Barney Harford, a former Expedia executive, could remain with the company after the sale is completed, according to Harteveldt. An Orbitz spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch that no announcements about personnel have been made and declined to provide a timeline about when the deal might close.

“Barney came from Expedia, and I think he’d be comfortable returning to the fold,” Harteveldt said. “However, Expedia will have to give him a meaty-enough role, and he’ll want the opportunity for further advancement.”

A larger Expedia should be good news for consumers because it will keep the power of airlines in check, according to the Business Travel Coalition, which represents corporate travel departments.

“Strong, independent distributors are necessary to keep the airlines honest on their websites and in their offerings to consumers,” wrote Kevin Mitchell, the organization’s chair, in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “These distributors provide consumers with the comparison-shopping tools that keep pricing discipline in the system. In the alternative, consumers would have to go to the Walled Gardens of each airline website and spend hours trying to determine the best deal. Of course, often, they would not.”

Expedia’s growing strength in the travel market, however, is bound to worry suppliers of travel services, according to Harteveldt. He added that the impact on consumers remains to be seen, though most won’t notice any changes, at least at first.

“The hotels and airlines in particular will be greatly concerned about the juggernaut that Expedia has become,” he said. “Right now, Orbitz and Expedia compete to offer access to inventory and prices. If the merger is approved, eventually Orbitz will be powered by the same back-end system as Expedia, with the same prices as a result. The only difference will be the web page’s design.”

Investors expecting more deals are probably on the right track, considering how active the industry has been consolidating recently. Priceline acquired rival Kayak Software in 2013 for $522.4 million. A year later, the Connecticut-based company branched out a bit and bought restaurant reservation service Open Table for $2.6 billion.

In July, Expedia said it was buying Australian booking site Wotif.com for $658 million. And barely a month ago, it announced plans to buy rival Travelocity for $280 million. In fact, just a week ago, Expedia Chief Financial Officer Mark Okerstrom shot down speculation that his company would be doing more acquisitions, telling The Wall Street Journal, “we’ve got our hands full right now.”

According to research firm Phocuswright, online travel agencies account for about 16 percent of the total U.S. travel market, or about $51.4 billion, a sign that the industry has plenty of room to grow.

“It has become a two-horse race between Expedia and Priceline globally.” Said Phocuswright Vice President Douglas Quinby

via Expedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying – CBS News.

Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual – fvw

Leading travel e-retailers are using technology to speed up and individualise their offers, according to top executives at a recent fvw event.

Expedia-Europa-Chef Andreas Nau

Online travel giant Expedia cannot afford to carefully plan a medium-term strategy, Andreas Nau, head of Expedia Europe, told the fvw Online Marketing Day in Frankfurt. “We have to be fast, test and be allowed to make mistakes,” he declared.

For example, Expedia is currently testing a new form of hotel evaluation in 60,000 properties via a new app. “Customers can quickly give their views on the reception, service and overall impressions via smileys,” he explained to some 270 participants. Hoteliers “are already addicted to it” and respond quickly, he said.

Outlining some new products, Nau said that Expedia has developed a tool enabling hoteliers to change their prices via a mobile device, and is working on a method of presenting room prices like on a stock exchange.

Tom Breckwoldt, TripAdvisor’s Germany chief

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is rapidly embarking on a new ‘customer journey’ and adapting itself to changing user habits, and the rapid advance of mobile devices, above all. “More than 50% of all content is consumed by mobile today,” said Tom Breckwoldt, Germany chief of the evaluation portal.

TripAdvisor no longer just wants to display hotel rankings ahead of a trip but also offer additional services at the destination, such as restaurant visits or excursions. The company has already bought content providers such as restaurant finder La Fourchette and activity finder Viator. Such activities will then be bookable on the company’s mobile portal.

Breckwoldt stressed: “Our core business remains the rankings, the evaluation of hotels and other services.” But he also predicted rapid growth of destination-based mobile bookings due to the spread of mobile devices and free wi-fi.

Facebook is also a good source of information for online tourism marketing, especially because companies can form clusters of users to target, Benjamin Schroeter, managing director of Facelift Brand Building Technologies, told the event. Tour operators, for example, could target specific groups for last-minute sales, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, this year’s fvw Online Marketing Award was won by the Hamburg tourist board for their mobile app, which acts as a city guide with detailed additional information as well as user evaluation options. The app has been downloaded more than 65,000 times since its launch in mid-2014.

via Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual.

Expedia Acquires Travelocity From Sabre for $280 million

By: MARTIN BLANC

Sabre & TravelocityPublished: Jan 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm EST

The online tourism market was shaken today with the news of Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) acquiring the online travel agency, Travelocity, from Sabre Corp. (NASDAQ:SABR) for $280 million in cash. The deal is the continuation of a strategic marketing agreement between Expedia, Inc. and Travelocity, which enables the former to power the technology platforms for the latter’s websites in US and Canada. This agreement allows access to Expedia, Inc.’s supply as well its customer service and support program.

Expedia is one of the pioneers of online travel industry, which, over the years, has cemented its position and made an extensive brand portfolio, covering many aspects of the tourism and travel market. It provides travel information, and hotel and flight bookings, as well as localized websites in 31 countries to cater to local audiences, amid other services.

Expedia, Inc.’s President and CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, commented on this development saying: “Travelocity is one of the most recognized travel brands in North America, offering thousands of travel destinations to more than 20 million travelers per month, The strategic marketing agreement we’ve had in place has been a marriage of Travelocity’s strong brand with our best-in-class booking platform, supply base, and customer service. Evolving this relationship strengthens the Expedia Inc. family’s ability to continue to innovate and deliver the very best travel experiences to the widest set of travelers, all over the world.”

Sabre is a leader in the global travel industry and provides technology, data, software, and distribution solutions. The company’s services are utilized by many players in the tourism and travel industry, from airlines to hotel management, in ensuring the success of operations such as reservations, revenue tracking, and flight and crew management. The President and CEO of the company, Tom Klein, acknowledged that Sabre and Expedia have had a successful partnership in boosting Travelocity’s business, and called today’s decision to be in the interest of the company.

Expedia, Inc. stock is up 2.16% today trading at $88.56, while Sabre stock is up 1.29% trading at $20.75 as of 3:25 PM EST.

via Expedia (EXPE) Acquires Travelocity From Sabre (SABR) For $280 million.

Why investors in online travel need to be picky about China in 2015 | Sally White EyeforTravel

Silvana ComugneroThere can be no doubt that China is a crucial market for travel brands but it may not be for everybody, writes Sally White

Fast growing China’s foreign travel market may be, but investors should be very picky about buying into this story. Certainly, the market is eye-wateringly large – 100 million outbound trips were made in 2014, according to the China National Tourist Administration (CNTA). Adding to its allure for companies wanting a growth story to woo shareholders, this figure could reach 1.4 billion by 2030 with a spend of $1.8 trillion. Also, the number of countries Chinese travellers can visit easily rises this year as more governments and tourism boards are offering them visa-free access.

But these numbers could be a snare and delusion for foreign corporates not already well established. Most of these travellers keep to their own turf, with 90% staying within Asia according to the CNTA. Not only are local giants already well established, spending heavily and growing fast in all areas of online travel trading! The international heavy-weights are there, too, with the necessarily thick wallets to help their Chinese partners and subsidiaries.

via Why investors in online travel need to be picky about China in 2015 | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel.

Ctrip acquires majority stake in Travelfusion

ctrip logoThe China-based travel service provider, Ctrip.com International has announced that it has completed an investment transaction in Travelfusion by purchasing a majority stake in the company.

Travelfusion is a UK-based leading online low cost carrier (LCC) travel content aggregator and innovator of direct connect global distribution solutions. Aggregating 200+ LCCs, full service carriers (FSCs), rail operators and 30+ leading hotel consolidators.

Ctrip chairman and chief executive officer James Liang noted: “Travelfusion has built a great GDS system for LCCs globally. The strategic relationship we built with Travelfusion will further extend our leadership in China’s international travel market, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our IT system by leveraging Travelfusion’s advanced technology. We are excited to work with Travelfusion’s team to create greater value for our customers.”

travelfusion logoTravelfusion chief executive officer Moshe Rafiah added: “China is expected to be the largest travel market in the world, and Ctrip is the clear leader in the online and mobile travel industry in China. After 15 years of building Travelfusion to be an industry leader, we are thrilled to take further steps to realize and fulfil our potential in such a great market with such a powerful industry leader.”

via ArabianTravelNews.com | Operators | Ctrip acquires majority stake in Travelfusion.

Travel Booking Sites Spent $624 Million on TV Advertising in 2014 – Skift

TV advertisingIn the hotly contested TV advertising wars, 18 online travel brands spent an estimated $624.7 million on national television advertising in the U.S. in 2014.The biggest spending brand was Germany-based Trivago at $108.5 million as it tried to build its brand in the U.S. Trivago edged out the U.S. TV ad spend of Expedia.com at $105.8 million.But Expedia Inc. companies, namely Trivago ($108.5 million), Expedia.com ($105.8 million), Hotwire ($92 million) and Hotels.com ($50.2 million) accounted for 57 percent, or $356.5 million, of total online travel TV spend in the U.S. in 2014.The spending estimates come from iSpot.tv, which tracks “paid TV media and related earned digital activity across social, search & video,” the company says.Using iSpot.tv data, AdAge reported that Trivago spent the 7th most, or $64.3 million, of any brand — not just travel brands — on U.S. TV advertising in 2014 on a single ad. Trivago  was the only travel company in AdAge’s top 10 list.

via Travel Booking Sites Spent $624 Million on TV Advertising in 2014 – Skift.

Expedia: Key Partnerships and Acquisitions in 2014 – Trefis

Expedia logoExpedia has experienced a healthy 2014.  The world’s second largest online travel services provider (in terms of gross booking volume of $39.2 billion) displayed a 22% year-on-year increase in revenues for the first nine months of 2014, to $4.4 billion. The key factors propelling this growth were the healthy performance of the hotel room nights and air tickets segments. The top line growth, combined with the disciplined investments in selling and marketing, led to a solid bottom line. Net Income for the first nine months of 2014 increased by 141% year-on-year to $332 million.

In this article, Trefis discuss the major acquisitions and partnerships undertaken by Expedia in 2014. They describe the strategic significance of the deals, and how these will lead to further growth in the future.

Extended Partnership With HomeAway: Expedia Forays Further Into The Vacation Rental Space

In September 2014, Expedia declared that it will continue its partnership (initiated in October 2013) with HomeAway, the world’s largest vacation rental website. HomeAway services account for approximately 15% of the U.S. and European vacation rental bookings market. [1] HomeAway’s website has more than one million live listings in 190 countries. [2]

Expedia would now be able to list 115,000 HomeAway vacation rental properties on its U.S. website. Vacation rentals are privately owned residential properties that property owners and managers rent to travelers on a nightly, weekly, or monthly basis. According to a study by PhoCusWright, the market for vacation rentals in the U.S. stood at $23 billion in 2012, lower than its levels prior to the recession. However, the share of online sales in vacation rentals doubled from 12% in 2007 to 24% in 2012, and this is expected to increase to 30% by 2014. [3]

Expedia believes that the vacation rentals listing will complement its existing business and will not undermine its hotel bookings, which currently accounts for more than 70% of its revenue. While the partnership will give HomeAway vacation rental owners and property managers exposure to more than 13.4 million monthly visitors on Expedia, Expedia users will get the benefit of being able to bundle home rentals with flights, cars and other travel bookings offered through the website.

Expedia’s Wotif Acquisition: Ensuring Market Dominance In Australia And New Zealand

In November 2014, Expedia completed its acquisition of Australia-based Wotif Group for $612 million. Wotif Group is a prominent player in the Asia Pacific market with a host of travel brands under its umbrella, including Wotif.com, lastminute.com.au, travel.com.au, Asia Web Direct, LateStays.com, GoDo.com.au and Arnold Travel Technology. Wotif’s portfolio focuses on hotel and air, offering consumers more than 29,000 bookable properties across the globe. The group currently operates from Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, UK and Vietnam. [4]

Wotif was Expedia’s major rival in Australia and New Zealand. With 1.3 million hotel reviews on its platform, Wotif had a market leadership in hotel reviews in the Australia New Zealand (ANZ) market. According to September 2013 data from Experian Hitwise, among top travel websites in Australia, Wotif held the second position and Expedia, the third position. Also, among top New Zealand travel websites, Expedia enjoyed the first position and Wotif, the second. [5]

According to a report by PhoCusWright, the Asia Pacific (APAC) market overtook Europe to become the global leader in regional travel in 2012. The Australia-New Zealand market accounted for 17% of APAC’s online travel market and earned $13.7 billion in online gross bookings. For 2015, the market size is estimated to be around $126.6 billion. [6]

Hence, both now and in the future, Asia Pacific will be a strategically important sector for online travel companies. The ANZ market is the third largest market in the APAC region, and Wotif is a prominent player in the ANZ market. Hence, we expect the acquisition to propel Expedia’s growth in the ANZ market and this in turn would be a contributing factor in establishing Expedia’s dominance in the APAC market.

Expedia’s Auto Escape Acquisition: Boosting The Car Rental Service Segment

Expedia acquired French car rental company, Auto Escape, in June 2014. The acquisition increased its exposure to the $36.9 billion global car rental industry, which is expected to grow at a compounded rate of 13.6% to reach $79.5 billion by 2019, according to Transparency Market Research. [7]

Auto Escape offers car rental services from over 300 car rental suppliers in 125 countries, and has a fleet of over 800,000 vehicles. It is estimated that Auto Escape’s revenues increased fivefold in the last five years to €120 million ($160 million). [8] Auto Escape became a part of the CarRentals.com brand, a business unit managed by Expedia’s Hotwire Group.

Although the contribution of car rentals and cruises to the valuation of Expedia is in low single-digits, we believe that the Auto Escape acquisition will help it sell more vacation packages and destination services since car rental is an integral part of such offerings.

via Expedia: Key Partnerships and Acquisitions in 2014 — Trefis.