Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Booking CEO’s M&A philosophy, Zoom burnout, and a hotel brand bonanza.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, January 17. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Whether it is out of ego or for personal financial incentives, Executive Editor Dennis Schaal writes that companies sometimes do mergers and acquisitions for the wrong reasons, and many academic studies show that takeover deals generally turn out to be what they term “losers.”

That’s the view of Booking Holdings and Booking.com CEO Glenn Fogel, who was interviewed recently on the subject of leadership for a podcast, C-Suite Conversations With Scott Miller.

Dealmaking can be incredibly perilous, Fogel said, adding: “you are playing with live ammunition.”

Acquisitions can be very “disruptive,” Fogel said, and companies need to be aware of how these deals would impact shareholders, employees and customers.

Fogel said he doesn’t recall ever making an acquisition for the wrong reasons, Schaal writes, although he’s tabled discussions and/or never returned to negotiations when he’s found out something about the management team he didn’t like or uncovered other problems.

Next up we turn to a story about the return of road warriors. Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons writes that in-person events and conferences are set to drive corporate travel’s recovery throughout 2023, as employees look for more human connections.

That’s according to Deloitte, the consulting giant that has predicted industry gatherings will play a starring role in corporate travel’s “new normal” after last year’s remote workers took center stage.

Deloitte’s 2023 Travel Outlook, published Tuesday, suggests part of that is due to “inadequate conferencing software,” as businesses also revive travel programs due to Zoom fatigue.

The report in particular notes that client acquisition and relationship building are not easily executed virtually, which is something Tata Consulting Services has picked up on as it ups spending on travel.

This year, events will have a larger role to play. In 2022, Deloitte’s research showed that just 25 percent of business travelers pointed to conferences, exhibitions and trade shows as their primary reason for travel.

We end today on what seems to be the endless and mind-boggling addition by hotel companies of new brands.

Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill writes that hotel companies have been launching new brands again with zeal. Hilton Worldwide said on Wednesday it had created its first hotel brand in the economy segment, Spark by Hilton. Accor, the owner of the world’s most hotel brands, said last week it had reorganized itself around its brands. Marriott International, Wyndham Worldwide, Hyatt, Kerzner, and Best Western have created or bought hotel brands in the past several months.

The flurry of activity raises some big-picture questions, such as what drives the creation of hotel brands — and whether there are too many.

To find answers, O’Neill spoke with Chekitan Dev, who literally wrote the book on Hospitality Branding. Dev, a distinguished professor at Cornell University’s Nolan School of Hotel Administration, said that if brands stepping into each other’s “swim lanes” and confusing the customer constitutes brand overload, then there definitely is brand bloat.

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Tags: booking holdings, guest experience, m&a, skift podcast, Zoom

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