Expedia profits slump as consumers cut travel

Expedia said third-quarter profit fell 4.8 percent as the economic downturn has led customers to cutting back on travel. It also predicted tougher times ahead with future booking suggesting the market will continue contracting.Bookings growth slumped to 7 percent from 21 percent a year earlier, and from 16 percent in the second quarter. Sales of airline tickets dropped 5 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Adler said: “Yes, it’s a difficult environment, but that’s everyone’s news.” He also said he expected air fares to increase in 2009, the first time the industry has seen higher ticket prices during a recession.

Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement: “Any predictions about its depth or duration would be foolish.”
North American bookings increased 1 percent and European bookings grew 18 percent, helped by foreign currency exchange.
The company says it will focus on increasing revenue per visitor by pushing rental cars, hotel stays, travel insurance and other products, and better data-gathering technology to help provide more user-specific recommendations.