This week’s Update contains a variety of stories, including details of a recent court win for German hoteliers and the recent musings of the always entertaining, Barry Diller. Enjoy.
Barry Diller’s Latest
("Expedia’s Barry Diller on Biz Travel Doubters: ‘They’re All Dopes’," May 21, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required))
Last week, in a CNBC interview with Expedia Group chairman, Barry Diller, he shared his latest views on the return of travel. Diller, like many, believes that leisure (consumer) travel will be the first to return. Diller did take issue with those that speculate business travel will never return. Barry’s assessment? “They’re all dopes.” Many in the airline industry share Diller’s view on business travel with several predicting a return following the Labor Day holiday.
This week’s Update features a number of stories and perspectives on last week’s earnings releases from Booking Holdings, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor. Enjoy.Key Takeaways: Booking Holdings' First Quarter Earnings Report
For those of you interested, we’ve included transcripts from last week’s earnings calls for both Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. For those of you who don’t pour through financials (myself included), I find the earnings calls very informative. My key takeaways from last week’s Booking Holdings’ call are below:
- For years, analysts have speculated that Booking Holdings was first and foremost a European distributor, but now we have some actual numbers to prove it. According to Booking Holdings’ CFO, David Goulden, slightly more than 50 percent of Booking’s pre-COVID business came from Europe. As for other regions, Asia has historically accounted for approximately 20 percent of Booking’s pre-COVID business (no single country accounting for more than low single digits), and the rest of the world (including North America) has accounted for the remaining 30 percent (pre-COVID).
- Booking continues to make strides in the North America, particularly in the United States, which was Bookings’ strongest performing major country in the first quarter, with room night growth in Q1 2021 exceeding growth in Q1 2019. Both Priceline and Booking.com reported strong first quarters in the United States.
- Booking remains focused on its core strategies by growing the Booking.com brand in the United States, and continuing to expand adoption of its payment platform and building out the “Connected Trip.”
- Booking points to its current Booking.com’s “Back to Travel” campaign, which launched in April and features a $50.00 post-stay travel credit for U.S. travelers booking through the Booking.com app. This initiative sets an example for possible future promotions that could help grow Booking.com’s business in the United States and possibly other markets. Other efforts include the continued growth of Booking.com’s vacation rental inventory. As for the payment platform, CEO, Glenn Fogel reported continued growth (just over 20 percent of bookings) of the integrated platform via increased adoption by Booking.com’s U.S. supplier partners. In 2020, the payment platform operated close to breakeven, but through other monetization opportunities, Fogel expects the platform to lead ultimately to incremental EBITDA growth. Finally, Booking’s continued focus on growing its non-accommodation products, particularly flights this past quarter, will be critical in establishing Booking’s “Connected Trip” vision – and capturing potential travelers further “up funnel”.
This week’s Update features a number of stories on the growing short-term rental industry, including Sonder’s recently announced plan to go public. Enjoy.
Ryanair Takes on Online Travel Agents (OTA)
("Ryanair launches new price checker and verified seal to further protect customers from OTAs," April 28, 2021 via Travel Daily News)
Last month, Ryanair announced the launch of two initiatives: the Price Checker and Verified Seal. Both initiatives, which are available only on the Ryanair website and app, are designed to stop OTAs (none of which have commercial relationships with Ryanair) from overcharging users, providing incorrect passenger details and preventing the airline from dealing directly with passengers. The Price Checker allows passengers who have booked tickets through an OTA to check the amount actually paid by the OTA to Ryanair, versus any margin, markup or other fee added by the OTA. The Verified Seal guarantees passengers that they are booking directly with Ryanair, and not through an unauthorized distributor or reseller. Those booking directly through Ryanair are assured to receive the lowest fares, the lowest fees and charges for ancillary items and refunds paid directly by Ryanair to the passenger (and not an intermediary).
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Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.