Expedia is holding back on a company-wide Covid vaccine mandate even as other large companies begin implementing them, CEO Peter Kern told CNBC on Friday.
“We’re trying to find solutions that are most widely used across our entire workforce, but there are no easy answers. … We all have to learn to live with Covid,” Kern said on Squawk Box. . “
“If we were all vaccinated in the US, we wouldn’t talk a lot about the Delta variant or anything else. But the world is a big place. We won’t vaccinate 8 billion people overnight,” said Kern of the US Census Bureau nearly 7.8 billion, and growing.
The online travel platform CEO’s comments came when United Airlines announced on Friday morning that its 67,000 US employees would have to get vaccinated or risk being fired by October 25th – a first among major US airlines and a move that will likely put pressure on its competitors. Other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, are still choosing to incentivize their employees and customers to get vaccinated instead of requiring them.
“We have offices in 55 countries around the world, there is no one-size-fits-all answer,” said Kern. “I think everyone gets vaccinated and I think companies are trying to find ways to motivate their employees in the right way and we definitely want our employees to be vaccinated too . “
The travel business has been adversely affected by the more contagious Delta variant spreading in the U.S. and around the world, Kern said. “We’ve certainly seen tremendous demand well into the summer and there is still pretty strong demand. But on the fringes, Delta has certainly had an impact.”
Kern said business travel “lagged significantly,” with delayed plans to return to the office likely to add to this trend. However, he believes that Expedia’s business, international and domestic bookings will return to pre-pandemic levels by next summer.
When travel made a comeback in April, Expedia changed its marketing strategy by updating its app and websites to focus more on collaborating with consumers in planning trips rather than just focusing on the number of bookings. The company raised $ 3.2 billion in new capital last year to help cut costs during the height of the pandemic.
“I think you will see that we are investing better, smarter and more organized against our brands,” said Kern. “You will see that our brands are working more clearly together for the common good rather than competing with one another.”
Expedia announced an adjusted loss per share of $ 1.13 for the second quarter after the bell on Thursday. Analysts had expected a loss of 65 cents per share. However, sales of $ 2.11 billion were better than expected. That’s a 273% increase from pandemic-related sales a year ago, but still about 40% less than in the second quarter of 2019 before Covid.
The company’s brands include the namesake Expedia.com as well as Hotels.com, Vrbo, Trivago, Orbitz and Hotwire.