Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tour Operators

Rival Tour Operators G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Launch Ad Campaigns on the London Underground

4 days ago

You know travel is back when….arch rival tour operators G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have both unveiled new ad campaigns targeting commuters across London’s transport systems. 

G Adventures’ “When was the last time you felt like this?” campaign, in which the company aims to showcase the joys of small-group adventures, features digital posters in London Underground stations and escalators. The month-long promotion, which is taking place while rail strikes disrupt travel in the United Kingdom, is targeting prospective customers who have returned to their offices.

“With London office workers quickly returning to our capital, that sense of ‘Groundhog Day’ was starting to set in,” said G Adventures Marketing Director Ant Stone.

London’s free newspapers, the Evening Standard and Metro, will also feature weekly content from G Adventures.

Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel has posted ads in London Underground stations and on buses, among other places, featuring the slogan “Travel Is Back For Good.” It’s the company’s first-ever big brand campaign in the UK.

Online Travel

The Complexity Headache That Expedia CEO Peter Kern Inherited in 1 Slide

4 weeks ago

Ever wonder about the daunting challenge that Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern inherited from predecessors Dara Khosrowshahi and Mark Okertstrom when Kern took the chief executive spot under Barry Diller in 2020?

The pandemic notwithstanding, Expedia Group captured its infrastructure issues in one slide as part of an investor presentation at Cowen 50th Anniversary Technology, Media & Telecom Conference Wednesday.

Many of the Group’s major brands, from Expedia to Hotels.com and Vrbo, had their own product, marketing and tech teams who were working at cross-purposes and competing against each other.

Competition can light a fire under a marketing group, for example, but did it make sense for Expedia and Hotels.com to bid against one another in Google search, and likely drive up costs?

Apparently not.

Elsewhere in the presentation Expedia noted that before it undertook its drive to simplify things it had more than 10 competing brands, five loyalty programs, more than 10 checkout experiences, and “siloed data lakes.”

In the interim, Expedia Group has made a splash consolidating many of these teams, and shedding brands including Egencia, SilverRail, Alice, Classic Vacations, and Expedia Local Expert. Not to mention BodyBuilding.com, which Expedia acquired when it bought Liberty Expedia Holdings.

The goal is “to build a single tech platform,” the presentation said.

We’ve heard Expedia talk of building a solitary tech platform for many years under prior regimes, but it seemingly never happened.

Online Travel

Are Uncool Things Like Hotels and Booking.com Making a Comeback at Airbnb’s Expense?

4 weeks ago

Just look at their market caps — Booking Holdings $92.05 billion and Airbnb a humbling $77.8 billion.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Booking’s share price has notched “single-digit gains” over the last six months, while “Airbnb’s shares have lost nearly a third of their value.”

Reporter Laura Forman attributes some of the discrepancy to the comeback and relative affordability of urban hotels versus soaring rates for short-term rentals.

Not to mention, we’d point out, seeming out-of-control cleaning fees with little rationale for the heft of the cost.

Airbnb’s average daily rates climbed 37 percent in the first quarter when measured against the first quarter of pre-pandemic 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing STR data, the story said average rates for urban hotels around the world in April haven’t yet inched back to pre-Covid levels, while the average price of a room night for hotels as a whole has risen less than 15 percent in April compared to the same period three years ago.

Of course, as the story notes, Airbnb has the brand advantage over Booking.com as Airbnb spent less than a quarter of its revenue on sales and marketing in the first quarter of 2022 while Booking shelled out more than half its revenue on sales, marketing and related expenses.

Still, there’s a reason that Booking.com spends so much on performance marketing on Google even as Airbnb has reduced the percentage of revenue it spends on marketing on Google and elsewhere since 2020. The reason Booking.com spends so much? It seemingly is working.

The Wall Street Journal cited Sensor Tower data tallying Booking.com’s app installs in April as being 13 percent higher than in January 2020 while Airbnb’s app downloads fell 12 percent in the same timeframe.

“Ironically, Booking has managed to reinvigorate interest in its namesake brand this year by promoting its tired image,” the Wall Street Journal said. “A Super Bowl commercial for Booking.com featured The Wire star Idris Elba mocking the brand as having ‘never been accused of being sexy, flash or lit,’ unless, he adds, ‘we’re talking literal.'”

We’re unsure how much weight to give to Booking’s Super Bowl ad — which seemed to underwhelm — in its app download number uplift.

The signs of life in Booking’s stock price compared with six months ago has a lot to do with the comeback of cities, the reopening of Europe, where Amsterdam-based Booking.com has most of its strength, and the relative affordability of hotels.

After all, while some people wrote off cities during the pandemic as being permanently scarred, Booking’s Glenn Fogel argued — as did Peter Kern of Expedia Group and Steve Kaufer of Tripadvisor — that urban hotels and cities would be back. It appears as though that’s starting to take shape.

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