Skift Take

Moral of the story about the early years of online travel? Not to over-simplify, but be prepared to take risks, feel free to contradict conventional wisdom, and assemble the best damn team that you can.

If you were to only watch one video from Skift Global Forum 2016, make it this one.

The panelists talked about back-room maneuverings in the two-decade-long annals of online travel; they dished about deals overlooked, lost or consummated, and they mused about the future of travel, from wiring up the gamut of lodging types for online booking to the future of voice search and artificial intelligence.

In a first-of-its-kind panel discussion [see video below], “Online Travel at 20 Years Old,” Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal joined Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi,  Expedia founder and Zillow chairman Rich Barton, founder and Upside CEO Jay Walker, and former National Leisure Group co-CEO and Altimeter Capital founder and CEO Brad Gerstner for a no-holds-barred conversation on the formative years of online travel — and what’s ahead. Skift interviewed all of them previously for its Definitive Oral History of Online Travel.

On stage, Walker recalled how American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall hated the Internet and the concept of and tried to sabotage its 1998 launch; Barton recounted how U.S. airlines — Al Capone-like — sought to snuff out Expedia and its IPO in 1999, using Orbitz as an enforcer; Khosrowshahi tells of phoning a banker in 2004 to get what would turn into successful talks going for his IAC to acquire TripAdvisor when Yahoo dilly-dallied, and Gerstner looked back at a limo ride with Barton to Barry Diller’s Beverly Hills mansion in 2001 after Diller’s IAC announced deals acquire the respective companies of the youthful pair.

Read more coverage of Skift Global Forum 2016

Here’s the video of the reunion panel, “Online Travel at 20 Years Old,” at Skift Global Forum 2016.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2017 events, including our London event in April of 2017.

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Tags: artificial intelligence, expedia, online travel, oral history, orbitz, otas, priceline, sgf2016, skift global forum

Photo credit: (From left) Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal, founder Jay Walker, former National Leisure Group co-CEO Brad Gerstner, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, and Expedia founder Rich Barton engage in a free-flowing gab-fest about the early days of online travel at the Skift Global Forum 2016 in Manhattan September 27. Skift

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