3 Ways Expedia Can Make Your Travel Easier in 2014

Expedia’s recent innovations offer not just improvements for travelers, but also strong potential for market-share gains to benefit investors. But the stock still comes with risks.

Jan 11, 2014 at 7:30AM

For most, vacations are a rarity in life. Therefore, you need to make the most of every opportunity. Nothing is worse than a bad vacation. At least when you have a bad day at work, you can go home and sulk and/or vent in the comfort of your own home. When you're on vacation, the bad water that made you sick isn't going to suddenly change for the better, those bugs flying around the room and landing on your eyelids aren't going to halt their flight patterns while you sleep, and the rude person at the front counter isn't going to have a change of heart regarding how he feels about out-of-towners. 

This isn't meant to scare you away from going on vacation. Everyone has a bad experience once in a while. But most vacations are successes. However, you need to maximize your odds of success. And that's where Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) comes in. 

Three innovations to improve travel bookings
The innovations you're about to read about have the potential to improve travel-booking experiences for millions of people. If this comes to fruition, then it will lead to market-share gains and increased revenue for Expedia. Of course, this isn't a guarantee. It's way too early to tell if these innovations will be successful since they were just launched. But they are being written about because of their strong potential.    

How many times have you searched for the right flight before finally booking something? If you're like the average traveler, it's 48 times. Wouldn't it be nice if all your previous searches would be automatically saved and retrievable at any time? This would save a lot of time. And wouldn't it be nice if you received emails about price changes for your saved searches, giving you an opportunity to take advantage of the best value? This is now possible with Expedia's Scratchpad. 

If you're the type of person who books a flight the first time you sit down, wanting to get it out of the way so you can move on to other things, then you might appreciate Expedia's Flight Recommendations, which analyzes more than 3 billion flight searches performed by other people and applies the results to your search in regards to alternative airports, dates, and times. The goal is to find you the best value. 

Itinerary Sharing is the third innovation. It pertains to having the option of sharing your travel itinerary with co-workers, friends, and/or family. Whoever you share the information with will have the ability to track departure times, arrivals, as well as delays. 

Combined with Expedia's Best Price Guarantee, these innovative measures have the potential to lead to market-share gains. But if we're to go on actual results as opposed to potential, does Expedia appear to be the best investment option? 

Expedia vs. peers
Expedia has grown its top line at a faster pace than Orbitz Worlwide (NYSE:OWW) over the past year but not as quickly as Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN):

PCLN Revenue (TTM) Chart

Priceline revenue (trailing-12 months) data by YCharts

Priceline has outperformed its peers on the top line for several reasons. A bidding system where customers could name their own price was the original catalyst. Having William Shatner as the company's face didn't hurt, either. However, later growth stemmed from acquisitions, especially Booking.com, which turned Priceline from a domestic travel company to an international one. 

Orbitz Worldwide has been trying to transition from a flight-booking travel site to a flight-and-hotel-booking travel site. Most consumers use the site for flight bookings, but Orbitz believes that its recent reward program, called Orbucks, could be a catalyst for increased consumer engagement, primarily because rewards are instantaneous. 

The bottom line
Expedia's recent innovations related to big data could act as positive catalysts for stealing market share from Priceline and, to a lesser extent, Orbitz Worldwide. If you would prefer to go with the company that is currently the fastest growing in the industry, then you might want to consider Priceline. If you choose to invest in any of the companies mentioned here, please keep in mind that they're all highly dependent on consumer discretionary spending levels, which makes them sensitive to any economic downturns. 

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Dan Moskowitz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Priceline.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Priceline.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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