Expedia Group’s second quarter financial filings included newsworthy tidbits about strategies and the impact of pandemics on short-term rentals. These are the ones we chose to highlight.
1. Booking.com and Expedia Group are committed to a new headquarters
Expedia Group, despite the rise in remote working, completed its $900 million Seattle headquarters construction in the second quarter 2021, overcoming Covid-related delays.
In late 2019, employees began moving from their previous digs in Bellevue to the new company. The pandemic interrupted this transition. Expedia Group’s employees in the area began returning to its headquarters last month.
When Expedia staff were asked about their status, the spokesperson stated Wednesday that most Expedia Group offices remain open to anyone who is able. However, they maintain flexibility and adhere to safety regulations.
According to the spokesperson, “Due to changing circumstances regarding Covid-19 we now target a broad return of office personnel on a hybrid basis starting in January 2022. This will depend on direction from local government and health authorities. We are committed to the well-being and safety of our employees.
Booking.com will soon be moving to the Netherlands as its new headquarters. Construction of the building is expected to finish midway through 2022.
The construction of Booking.com headquarters started in 2016, just like Expedia. Booking Holdings, the parent company of Expedia, was required to spend around $321 Million for this office building project. This did not include a lease.
Booking.com’s sister site Rentalcars.com has also been on the track to move its headquarters from Manchester, England in September 2021.
2. 2. Alternative Housing Options for Downsizing
Expedia Group as well as Booking.com experienced significant reductions in short-term rentals inventory during the second quarter 2021, compared to a year ago. Expedia seems to have been hit more than Booking.com, but this is difficult to determine from their financial statements because Expedia measures things differently and other factors are involved.
Booking.com, for example, lists “homes and apartments” among its listings.PropertiesExpedia Group mentioned the Vrbo unit as an “online bookingable alternative accommodation”Listings
Booking Holdings also stated that Booking.com removes alternate accommodations property for reasons such as non-payment or availability.
Booking.com’s alternative accommodation property numbers declined by 7.2 percent to 1.95million properties in the second quarter 2021. However, this figure was an increase over the previous quarter.
Vrbo had fewer alternative accommodation listings than in 2020’s June quarter. However, this was a modest decrease of 4.76 percent to 2. million listings.
3. Expedia Group is Moving along with the Disposition of Brands
In its most significant asset disposal in memory, other than the Tripadvisor spinoff in 2011, Expedia Group in early August accepted American Express Global Business Travel’s offer to acquire Expedia’s corporate travel unit, Egencia. Expedia will acquire a 14. percent share in the largest global travel management company, in a transaction valued at approximately $750 million. Closing is anticipated for 2021.
As detailed in its financial filing, Expedia sold vacation packager Classic Vacations, acquired in 2002, to private equity firm Najafi Companies in April. Expedia does not realize any financial gains from the transaction.
With Expedia seeking to simplify its plethora of holdings to focus on core businesses, it also sold its hotel operations app, Alice, to private equity firm Alpine Investors last month. The deal will not have a significant impact on Expedia’s balance sheets.
4. Hotel Tax Litigation Wanes
Online travel agencies were named as defendants in tax suits brought by states, cities and counties against hotels. The plaintiffs argued that online agencies should pay occupancy taxes at the retail price they sell rooms, not just the net rate Expedia receives from hotels to rent their rooms.
Expedia stated that there were 103 of these lawsuits over the years and only 10 are currently pending. Expedia still faces tax inquiries or audits, including one currently being conducted by Los Angeles. This was in response to the City of Los Angeles’ first hotel tax suit against online travel agencies back in 2004.
Booking Holdings is currently subject to numerous rate parity and value-added tax litigation actions across Europe.
5. 5. Expedia settles Shareholder Lawsuit
Expedia said it has tentatively settled a shareholder lawsuit dating to 2019 that challenged senior executive Barry Diller’s potential voting control of the company after executing a merger with Liberty Expedia. The terms of the settlement are not disclosed.
6. Booking.com is Still Working To Repay Additional Government Grants
Booking.com was under fire from European employees who questioned how Booking.com could accept Covid government assistance and then fired about 25% of its workforce for 2020. The company claimed that it had repaid $137 million, $19 million more after June 30.
Booking Holdings said that although not all of these funds were returned, they are working with different governments to make voluntary repayments.
Photo credit: Expedia Group expected to finish the delayed construction of the Seattle headquarters in the second quarter 2021. Booking.com, as well as sister site Rentalcars.com are moving to new headquarters. Expedia Group
Publiated at Thu, 12 August 2021 06:02.56 +0000