Skift Take

This week in digital news, Expedia Chairman Barry Diller led an eventful earnings call during which he tore into the company's work-life balance and bloat, but also admitted he was just beginning to understand the business. Plus, Skift Research explores Google's far-reaching impact on the travel industry.

Digital Travel News Weekly Roundup

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

Expedia Chairman Barry Diller Rips His ‘Bloated’ Company as ‘All Life, No Work’: The straight talk from Diller and Kern will likely delight Wall Street, and rankle former management and current employees. Employees will have to buy into the new vision if there’s any hope it will become reality.

Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick Backs Hotel Company Using 3D Printing Tech: The figure $20 million might not sound like a huge amount, but in the world of flat-pack hotels, it can probably get you quite far.

Google Bows to European Pressure and Tests Adding Travel Rivals’ Direct Links: Google has argued for years that its boxed-up and featured hotel, flight, and restaurant results are highlighted because they provide users with the “best answers.” But in Europe, regulators may have pushed Google to acquiesce, offering its competitors some air time in its featured results by testing direct links.

A Deep Dive Into Google’s Impact on Travel 2020: No matter where in the travel industry you turn, one company seems to be on everyone’s lips: Google.

Tripadvisor Forecasts Experiences and Dining Will Eclipse Hotel Revenue in 2020: When Tripadvisor first started diversifying away from its hotel-auction business several years ago, it was mostly aspirational because its experiences and dining businesses were relatively small. Now there is a bit of revenue meat on those bones. Still, meaningful profits will be slow-going in this competitive climate.

Is Airbnb’s Stock Market Debut in 2020 Still On Track? Sporting some red ink in its financial results doesn’t spell doom and gloom for Airbnb’s prospects of going public in 2020. On the other hand, the question for employees and investors becomes — at what valuation?

India’s MakeMyTrip Rewards Exec for Loyalty Work With Group CEO Promotion: Longtime leader and co-founder Deep Kalra will remain critical at the company in a newly created role of executive chairman. The change in job titles is a reward for co-founder Rajesh Magow’s years of work leading the India business. Both executives have pushed hard on a subscription model, one of Skift’s Megatrends for 2020.

Mondee Buys Airfare Wholesaler in Play for Ethnic Travel Agencies: Mondee’s acquisition of fast-growing CTS (Cosmopolitan Travel Service) makes the group North America’s largest airfare wholesaler by market size. Notably, Mondee could afford the deal thanks to fresh backing by TCW Group, a giant asset management firm. Lots of institutional money is seeking opportunities in travel this year.

Cvent Group Bookings Down Even Before Potential Coronavirus Impact: A predicted dip in group bookings is making hotels more aggressive on bookings, with future uncertainty compounded by coronavirus and the 2020 election. Pushes Into India With HolidayIQ Deal: Speculation continues to grow around Group’s ownership. In the meantime it’s getting on with expanding its presence across the globe.

How Anxious Should Event Planners Be as Coronavirus Impact Looms? Event planners can expect increasingly aggressive pitches from hotels as group bookings decline and the threat of coronavirus continues to loom. The new year is already taking some unique turns.

Vacasa Seeks New CEO as Founder Eric Breon Steps Aside: Eric Breon grew Vacasa from a business run off his dining room table to North America’s largest full-service vacation rental management business. Few startups have the awareness to know when they need different leadership to get to an initial public offering, and Vacasa may be a rare exception.

What Sabre’s Antitrust Trial Says About the Future of Distribution: As Sabre fights to acquire Farelogix, it’s important to examine exactly why intermediaries are beginning to scoop up the companies built to disintermediate them.

Trivago Tests New Marketing Strategy and Products After ‘Rough’ Fourth Quarter: Trivago CEO Axel Hefer said the company will focus on those things it can control. But the issue for Trivago and some competitors is that there is so much they can’t control, including Google’s incursions, the rise of Airbnb, and the whims of major online travel agency advertisers when they cut their metasearch spend.

Investor Heavyweight Lakestar Bets on Limehome and Impala: Travel Startup Funding This Week: Of particular note this week is that top-tier European venture capital firm Lakestar has bet on two companies: Impala, which helps hotels talk to other businesses, and Limehome, a next-generation hotel brand. Lakestar is best known for having invested early in companies like Airbnb, Skype, and Spotify. The travel sector can use all the smart money it can get.

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Tags: digital, Travel Trends, trends roundups

Photo credit: Morale at Expedia is likely low today following a call with investors during which Chairman Barry Diller tore into the company, accusing it of being "all life and no work." Travelarz / Wikimedia Commons

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