Hotels.com and its global growth spurt

In the 2008 Web Globalization Report Card, Hotels.com ranked close to last place in the web services category.

In this year’s Report Card, Hotels.com ranked only behind Google and Wikipedia — an impressive turnaround.

In just two years, Hotels.com added 19 languages, improved global consistency, and, most important, improved local relevance.

It’s nice to see the business press taking notice.

This Wall Street Journal profile of Johan Svanstrom, the head of Hotels.com’s Asia group, sheds light on why the company has done so well. The article begins:

Online travel giant Expedia Inc. had fewer than 20 employees in Hong Kong and no Chinese-language website when Johan Svanstrom took on his role as Asia-Pacific vice president of Expedia unit Hotels.com five years ago. Under 38-year-old Mr. Svanstrom, Hotels.com has added 13 new country-specific websites in the region and more than 160 staff.

Hotels.com is clearly betting big on Asia, and with good reason. Says Svanstrom:

According to the [International Air Transport Association], Asia Pacific overtook North America as the world’s largest air-travel market with 647 million passengers in 2009—a true milestone. When these people arrive at their destination, very many of them need a hotel to stay in. Add to that the fact that travel is one of the top three verticals of e-commerce and a natural pair with the Internet? All the stars are aligned.

I love to see profiles such as this; I hope to see more in the months ahead. Despite all the doom and gloom in the news these days, a lot of companies are booming abroad — and, in large part, thanks to smart bets on web globalization.

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.