In 2015, Expedia Group withdrew from a huge bet in China when the firm sold its majority stake in eLong, which had been hemorrhaging profit for nearly a decade, to rival Ctrip for $671 million. Regardless, Expedia has not given up on the region yet.
In the interim, Expedia has been quietly building its footprint in the Asia Pacific. Its move last week to take 100 percent ownership of its Air Asia joint venture, which dates to 2011, is the latest signal.
Although not as flashy as Booking Holdings investments in China’s Ctrip ($1.3 billion), ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing ($500 million), and e-commerce platform Meituan-Dianping ($450 million), Expedia is taking a multifaceted approach to the Asia Pacific that includes a $350 million investment in Indonesia booking site Traveloka; a sizable and behind-the-scenes affiliate business powering hotel bookings for online travel agencies, offline travel agencies, and airlines; as well as building the Expedia and Hotels.com brands in the region.
“We are very excited about Asia, and we are in Asia in many different ways,” Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom said during an earnings call in October. “And, we’re in it very seriously. And I think if you look over a 5-year-basis, there will be many countries in Asia where, at the end of five years, we are truly locally relevant in terms of having number one positions in those markets.”
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