Skift Take

Two decades after the birth of online travel, more than two dozen founders and key players exclusively tell Skift how it all happened. This is a story of a history that changed the future of travel forever. Dig in, this will take a while.

Today, we’re launching our biggest and most ambitious editorial project yet: The Definitive Oral History of Online Travel.

This is the birth and history of online travel, as told by people who were there at the start: the people who created what changed the future of travel forever, and the people who two decades later still rule the world of online travel.

Bits and pieces of the stories about the companies at the birth of online travel have come out over the years in various media. On rare occasions over the years an enterprising journalist would uncover something about these companies and their trajectories that wasn’t already in the public record, but this was the exception rather than the rule.

But that lack of insight into what was actually going on behind the scenes during those early years of online travel, from the early 1990s to 2005, ends right now with this, The Definitive Oral History of Online Travel.

Our News Editor Dennis Schaal worked non-stop on this project for the last four months, with painstakingly deep interviews with the cast of characters you will see throughout this production.

All in all, with about 40,000 words in this first package — and about 10,000 more words in accompanying stories coming out in the next couple of weeks with leaders in Latin America, China, and Africa — Skift provides you with insights into the dreams, challenges and acquisitions that battered and buttressed the early years of online travel and e-commerce as told through the occasionally contradictory recollections of 28 founders, CEOs, and early employees of companies in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Their anecdotes and newsy, never-heard-before disclosures come interactively in the form of text, historic photos, audio clips, radio and TV commercials, and videos.

One thing that came across in these overwhelmingly — and sometimes shockingly — candid interviews was these pioneers’ emotional attachment to their work and play in the early days. The stories they unveiled were personal, business-oriented and varied.

Read It Now

The Cast of Characters Telling the History of Online Travel

Details about the relationships between these founders who competed viciously over the years and anecdotes, as well as first-time revelations about the game-changing actions that shaped and still influence online travel history, are interwoven throughout this narrative.

We think it is a compelling and tantalizing read as a way to not only relive the transformative years of online travel and ecommerce but also to take away lessons that have relevance today.

Sit back, dig in, and enjoy The Definitive Oral History of Online Travel.

Send us your feedback, suggestions, bouquets and brickbats about this project, write to us at: [email protected]

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Tags: american airlines,, expedia, gds,, microsoft, online travel agencies, oral history, ota history, priceline, sabre, travelocity, tripadvisor

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