HB ON THE SCENE: Expedia Not Creating Its Own Soft Brand

LAS VEGAS—At its Explore ’18 Conference here at the Aria Resort & Casino, Expedia Group President/CEO Mark Okerstrom said that the company is not creating its own soft brand.

“We are not building a soft brand, but we are going to continue to try to find ways where we can leverage our platform to help our hotel partners increase revenue or reduce their costs,” said Okerstrom during a “Fireside Chat” and Q&A with Melissa Maher, SVP for marketing and innovation with Expedia’s Lodging Partner Services, and Cyril Ranque, president of Lodging Partner Services, when questioned about rumors that they were.

“In many cases—like revenue management tools, like hotel websites—these are things that sometimes you get as part of soft brands,” he added. “We are not really thinking about it in that way, as much as we are just thinking about, ‘How can we use our platform to help benefit everyone?’”

After a question about Airbnb, Ranque brought up the concern that he has heard from hotel owners about the company adding home-sharing listings on the Hotels.com search results. He clarified that the appearances of these listings are related to the number of people in the search.

“It is a great opportunity for us to offer these options to customers who are looking to travel in larger groups,” he said. “It doesn’t really impact the hotel product, as long as [we]organize the search results in a way that puts the right properties in front of the right customer for the right trip type.”