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Ask anyone to name their favorite travel booking site and you’ll likely hear Booking.com, Kayak, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Priceline. But if Expedia, Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is right, Facebook may soon be joining that list.
Yes, the same site that reconnected you with your best friend from kindergarten might very well become your first stop when you’re searching for an affordable oceanfront suite with free Wi-Fi. In a wide-ranging interview with Skift, Khosrowshahi predicted that, given Facebook’s current trend toward e-commerce, it seems inevitable that the social media giant will use its vast reach to enter the online booking industry in a big way — particularly in the wake of Google’s recent foray into the travel realm.
“We do think that travel is such a significant portion of e-commerce that Facebook will have a travel-specific product,” Khosrowshahi told Skift.
Earlier this month, Facebook introduced Dynamic Ads for Travel, which allow travel companies to target Facebook users based on a range of hyper-specific data, including search history. Trivago, a subsidiary of Expedia, Inc., was one of the first brands to try it out. As was Marriott. Which is where the potential downside for companies like Expedia lies: If hotels, airlines and other travel brands can work with Facebook directly to promote their products, they could essentially cut out the middleman.
Yet Khosrowshahi has also made it clear that, in the travel sphere, the same companies that compete with each other also often collaborate. “In this industry, everyone works together, everyone competes with each other,” he told GeekWire earlier this month. “We do compete with Alaska Airlines for audience but we also are a huge, huge partner of theirs and we are booking millions and millions of Alaska Airlines tickets and there is this co-opetition within the field. We compete with Google for audience. At the same time, we are a huge advertising partner of Google. It’s a reality of e-commerce, it’s reality of the Internet, and it’s certainly a reality of this category in general. That’s not going to stop.”
Dan Wasiolek, senior equity analyst at Morningstar Inc., agrees with that assessment. “I don’t see one side benefiting more than the other here,” Wasiolek told Skift. “It’s just another way to reach customers. If you have good content, which I think Expedia and Priceline do, they should be fine.”
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