Expedia has become the first major travel agency to accept Bitcoin, announcing today that they’ll accept it for hotel bookings. Coinbase is partnering with them for the integration.
The company plans on expanding the capability toward other bookings in the future. Right now, hotels were chosen as an appropriate test phase as they are a smaller segment of the business.
Michael Gulmann, VP of global product, the decision came from a combination of customer demand and the company’s engineers and product/business developers starting to think about Bitcoin: “This is one of those ideas that seemed to have sprung from three different places all at once.”
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Despite internal optimism, the company’s outlook for bitcoin-based sales is conservative. They are not expecting exceptionally high volume, a markedly different attitude than that expressed by Overstock Patrick Byrne. It is still viewed as an important part of their future, since if they’re “solving a customer need then we’re going to take it.”
Also unlike Overstock, they will not be holding onto the bitcoins, but Gulmann says that’s not a “a statement on bitcoin, pro or con.”
Expedia connects travelers to over 145,000 hotels, 300 airlines, vacation packages, car rentals, cruises and destination services. The company is traded on the NASDAQ and has a market cap of $9.75 billion, 24x that of Overstock.com. However, like DISH, the biggest company to yet accept Bitcoin, they have recently struggled to turn a profit, incurring a net loss of $14 million in the most recent quarter.
It would be hard to say that Bitcoin traders have been moved by this piece of news- bitcoin prices have actually dropped sharply during the past 6 hours. On Bitstamp, they lost 3% to hit a 6-day low of $627.