Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at planned travel spending among Americans, Google’s advertising challenge, and waiting for U.S. visas.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, January 26. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Americans are increasingly feeling the pain of rising travel prices. Skift Research’s newly released U.S. Travel Tracker for December 2022 reveals a third of Americans plan to cut travel spending in the next 12 months — a 10 percentage point jump from last October.

Senior Research Analyst Varsha Arora writes the future of travel’s recovery remains precarious with a majority of Americans believing both their personal finances and the U.S. economy will worsen in the next year. The concern about the industry’s rebound comes despite 55 percent of Americans traveling in December 2022, 10 percentage points higher than the same month the previous year.

Next, an antitrust lawsuit that the U.S. Department of Justice and eight states filed against Google this week details how the tech giant leveraged consumer data to dominate online advertising, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal in this week’s Online Travel Briefing.

As Schaal writes, Google shares certain user information with advertisers, the lawsuit states the company began combining data in 2016 from its properties, including YouTube, to create user identities. That data was valuable in Google’s efforts to build a monopoly across the ad tech industry, the suit added. Although the lawsuit doesn’t mention the word travel, Schaal notes that travel advertisers such as Expedia and Marriott are well aware of the added cost of having to pay Google to reach consumers.

Meanwhile, Google has responded by arguing in a blog post that the U.S. online advertising business has plenty of competition, citing Amazon and TikTok as major players in the industry.

Finally, the lengthy waits for U.S. visitor visas worldwide — considered a significant obstacle in the country’s tourism recovery — are starting to decline. The average wait time dropped below 150 days this month for the first time since 2021, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.

Habtemariam notes one factor in the reduced wait times is a U.S. State Department initiative keeping embassies and consulates open on Saturdays to process visas. The State Department expects visitor visa wait times to fall under 120 days by the end of the 2023 fiscal year, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

However, the average wait times for visa interviews remain higher than 400 days in the U.S.’ top inbound visa-requiring markets, including India, Brazil and Mexico. Skift addressed the impact of visa processing delays on the U.S. travel industry in a 2023 Megatrend.

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Tags: coronavirus recovery, google, skift podcast, skift research, visas

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