Ariane Gorin is ready to take the reins at Expedia Group.

Gorin, who will take over as chief executive officer when Peter Kern, current CEO and vice chairman, steps down later this month, shared her vision for the start of her tenure as CEO during the company’s first quarter earnings call for 2024.

“My immediate priority as CEO is to work with our teams to accelerate our growth and to sharpen the longer-term strategy for our consumer business,” said Gorin, who joined the company 11 years ago and most recently headed up Expedia Group’s B2B business.

Since the company’s CEO transition announcement in February, Gorin said she has been familiarizing herself with the company’s consumer business.

“It’s undergone extreme transformation over the last few years, from technical migrations and changes in our loyalty program to changes in how our teams operate the business,” said Gorin. “We’ve dealt with a lot of turbulence.”

Gorin believes in order to push forward, Expedia Group needs to focus on “the basics,” which she referenced as increasing conversions, driving traffic and expanding margins.

But what is she most excited about? Technology – particularly artificial intelligence and Expedia Group’s move to put all its brands on one technology stack, enabling them to evolve more quickly.

“I can tell you I’m excited about advertising. I’m excited about B2B,” said Gorin. “There are a lot of parts of our businesses. But I think fundamentally, it’s how technology is going to allow us to deliver traveler experiences that are truly personalized. … I think that will really differentiate us.”

CEO transition underway

The company’s first quarter earnings call came days before Kern is scheduled to step down as CEO on May 13, as he announced during Expedia Group’s last earnings call in February.

“This will be my last earnings call,” Kern said Thursday. “I’m excited to be handing the reins over to Ariane.”

Kern has served as CEO for more than four years and will retain his role as vice chairman and a member of Expedia Group’s board of directors.

Some of Gorin’s notable wins leading the B2B business were highlighted on the company’s November earnings call: In its third quarter last year, the company’s B2B revenue was $995 million, a 26% year-over-year uptick and a record for Expedia Group. That success came as clients were onboarded in 2023 including Mastercard and Walmart, among other initiatives such as B2B partners including a number of companies in Asia Pacific, Air Miles and Afterpay.

Expedia tempers expectations for 2024

Expedia tempered expectations around 2024’s gross bookings Thursday as it reported its first quarter earnings.

Kern said in the company’s earnings release that the first quarter met Expedia Group’s guidance with revenue and earnings and noted continued success in its B2B business but pointed out the company saw less robust gross bookings.

The company reported that total gross bookings were at $30.2 billion, a 3% bump compared with the same period in 2023.

“Vrbo’s recovery following the recent re-platforming has been slower than anticipated, which has put pressure on gross bookings,” said Kern.

He noted the company is seeing some acceleration in the remainder of its B2C business entering the second quarter, which he anticipates will continue.

But the company is lowering its full-year guidance for its B2C entities.

“Given the Vrbo drag and the rate of acceleration in B2C thus far, we are lowering our full-year guidance to a range of mid to high single digit top-line growth with margins relatively in line versus last year,” said Kern. “Despite this slower than expected acceleration, the underpinning of the work we have done on the platform is in place, and I have every confidence in the teams to continue to leverage these capabilities to drive even stronger growth.”

The company reported that lodging gross bookings were up 4% compared with Q1 last year at $21.9 billion, with hotel bookings up 12%.

Meanwhile, revenue sat at $2.9 billion, an 8% increase year over year, with B2B revenue seeing a significant uptick of 25% at $833 million.

Booked room nights rose 7% year over year, sitting at 101 million.

The company experienced a net loss of $135 million with an adjusted net income of $29 million. Adjusted EBITDA sat at $255 million, up 38% from the same period last year.

Expedia Group prioritizing restructure

Kern spoke of the company’s years-long tech transformation which concluded in the fourth quarter last year.

“I will just close by expressing my profound appreciation to all our teams at Expedia for their dedication throughout our multi-year, often painful transformation journey,” said Kern. “When the returns from this work are fully realized, we will owe this determined bunch of people a great debt of gratitude.”

And the company’s first quarter of 2024 was not without elements of restructure, even beyond its CEO transition.

Just after its CEO transition was made public, Expedia Group revealed it had created two new sectors in its B2B division. The new verticals are led by company veterans, Alfonso Paredes who transitioned to become the president of Private Label Solutions, and Greg Schulze who became president of Travel Partners and Media. Those two divisions replace what was formerly known as Expedia for Business.

Also in February, the company announced it would make up to 1,500 job cuts around the globe.

And in March, Expedia Group announced Expedia Brands president Jon Gieselman will depart from the company on June 1 after three years as the head of the company’s consumer business and marketing strategy. Gieselman’s absence will be filled by two new C-suite roles which were filled internally. Jochen Koedijk will become the company’s chief marketing officer and Brad Bentley will become chief operations officer, leading consumer business.

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