Expedia CEO Peter Kern Says The Metaverse Isn’t A Threat To “Real To” Travel

On Friday, Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern told CNBC he’s not worried customers will give up real-world travel for a virtual reality alternative.

“I do not see [the metaverse] as a competitive threat. We’re certainly, like everyone else in the world, kind of intrigued by this … but we’re talking about the “true verse” instead, Kern said in a “Squawk on the Street” interview.

Big names like Facebook parent Meta have heralded the Metaverse as the future, while a host of other companies, from McDonald’s to Playboy, plan to take advantage of virtual reality. Real estate sales in the metaverse hit $501 million in 2021, and that’s expected to double this year.

But all activity in the metaverse still doesn’t compare to real travel, Kern said. “I don’t think the metaverse in my lifetime will ever make up for being in Paris, being in Rome, being in a national park. There’s just no replacement for that. These experiences are what change our lives, and I don’t think it’s the same with headphones on your couch.”

Shares of Expedia – up 10% year-to-date – gained more than 1% on Friday, the day after the company announced an adjusted fourth-quarter gain of $1.06 per share. trimester. This exceeded estimates, but revenues were below expectations. Expedia said the Covid-related impact on travel bookings was significant, but less severe and for a shorter duration due to the omicron than previous variant waves.

Kern said flight cancellations and lockdowns dampened travel demand in the fourth quarter, but travel “will be fine,” especially as more people stayed home throughout the pandemic plan travel and consumers begin to accept the new standard of travel risk.

He acknowledged that while he could be wrong about the long-term metaverse, he’s confident customers won’t be swapping their passports for headsets anytime soon.

“Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe in 100 years we’ll all be drums and sitting around with headphones,” he said. “But I think for the foreseeable future we feel pretty good about people wanting to be in the world.”

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