Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Kayak and OpenTable Laid Off 80 Employees

8 months ago

Kayak and OpenTable, two Booking Holdings brands, laid off 80 employees, Skift has learned.

A screen grab from Kayak’s Sorry, Winston commercial. Source: Kayak

A spokesperson said that was less than 5% of their workforce.

“Like many other companies, we needed to make some difficult staffing changes as we sharpen our priorities,” the spokesperson said. “We continue to have ambitious plans for our meta brands and are doubling down on our core product focus.”

The employees affected were in the brands’ travel and shared services teams, the company said.

Kayak has several metasearch, or comparison shopping, brands, including Kayak, Momondo and Hotelscombined, among others. OpenTable is Bookings’ dining reservations platform.

Online Travel

Trivago Gets New CEO and Leadership

1 year ago

Travel metasearch company Trivago said on Tuesday that Johannes Thomas had become CEO and Managing Director, succeeding Axel Hefer, as the company struggles to return to its pre-IPO glory days.

Thomas began at Trivago as an intern and rose to become the company’s chief revenue officer, with a specialty in business operations and strategy.

Other executive changes include included Jasmine Ezz becoming chief marketing officer and Andrej Lehnert becoming chief product officer.

At $1.20 a share on Tuesday, Trivago is in danger of seeing its share price go below $1 and becoming de-listed if it doesn’t turn around its financial trajectory.

For context, read this month's Skift article: Trivago’s Returns Take a Hit as Company Invests in Direct Connection Tool

Hotels

Australia’s Webjet Launches Tool to Weed Out Rogue Hotel Rates

1 year ago

With hotels seeing a big bounce in bookings, so too can they expect to see more so-called rogue rates creeping back. These are rates that they’ve not authorized, and are a common complaint. Now one of the major bedbank players has developed a platform to help hotels fix any rogue rates they spot.

WebBeds, the accommodation marketplace owned by Australia’s Webjet, has launched a tool called Parity Monitor. It will first act as a hub where hotels can submit parity discrepancies to WebBeds, which connects accommodation providers to a network of 44,000 offline and online travel buyers.

It’s just the first phase of a program, as later it will let its hotel partners track, monitor, report back and eventually resolve rate discrepancies. WebBeds also said it had set up a centralised team dedicated to resolving parity issues.

“WebBeds is very aware of the frustrations that our hotel partners experience when there are rate parity discrepancies in the market,” said WebBeds CEO Daryl Lee.

Expedia Group and Marriott International have already partnered to curb the practice, and last year said they’d reduced the unauthorized distribution of wholesale hotel rates across metasearch websites by 80 percent.

Short-Term Rentals

HomeToGo Earns $155 million in 2022 Revenue, Surpasses Initial Guidance

1 year ago

German vacation rental marketplace HomeToGo’s revenue grew to €146 million ($155 million) in 2022, up 54 percent from the comparable period in 2021. This is well ahead of its initial guidance of €120-125 million ($127-$132 million) for 2022. The announcement is part of the company’s preliminary results for 2022. 

During the same period, the Berlin-based company’s subscriptions and services grew to €24 million ($25.4 million) increasing by 169 percent from €9 million ($9.5 million) in 2021. Its onsite revenues, where travelers booked directly on the company’s websites, grew to €67 million ($71 million), up by 111 percent from €32 million ($34 million) from 2021. 

A resort listed on HomeToGo in Williamsburg, Virginia. Source: HomeToGo

Founded in 2014, HomeToGo currently operates localized apps and websites in 25 countries.

In January this year, the company said it was on track to break even in 2023, buoyed by the optimism of a much greater backlog of bookings at the beginning of 2023 than the previous year. The booking backlog of €32.5 million ($34.5 million) amounted to a 72 percent year-over-year increase.

“One key piece of this has been our clear focus on an efficient marketing strategy to drive and scale repeat demand,” HomeToGo CFO ​​Steffen Schneider told Skift in January. 

HomeToGo raised a total of $176 million in private funding over six rounds, and has acquired 10 companies, a prominent one being e-domizil for $45 million in March 2022. 

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Names Appointees to Fill Out Reorganization of Its Core Business

1 year ago

Tripadvisor filled in the blanks, naming two executive appointments to flesh out a reorganization of its core business that the company disclosed during its fourth quarter earnings call a week ago.

Sanjay Raman, who had previous stints at Airbnb, Greylock and Google, starting working in January as chief product officer, a new position within Tripadvisor’s core business segment.

Kristen Dalton. Source: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Tripadvisor

Likewise, Kristen Dalton, who has served in Tripadvisor roles since 2019 as vice president of financial planning and analysis and interim head of the company’s business to consumer group, started serving in January as chief operating officer of the company’s core business. That is a new position, as well.

Core Business Is Distinct From Viator and TheFork

What is Tripadvisor’s core business? Tripadvisor defines it as “Tripadvisor branded hotels, Tripadvisor branded display and platform, Tripadvisor experiences and dining revenue, and other revenue,” including cruise. Tripadvisor recently de-emphasized vacation rentals, flights, car rentals within its “other revenue” category.

Sanjay Raman. Source: Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Tripadvisor

Although Tripadvisor experiences and dining revenue are part of the core segment, the separately branded Viator experiences and TheFork dining revenue don’t fall within the core business. That means the January appointees won’t be responsible for Viator and TheFork, which have separate teams.

With the appointments and the reorganization of Tripadvisor’s core segment, Tripadvisor now had functionally led teams in operations (led by Dalton), marketing (John Boris), product (Raman) and engineering (Sugata Mukhopadhyay).

Under the prior structure, the teams were organized along business to consumer and business to business lines.

While Viator reached 171 percent of 2019 revenue levels in 2022, TheFork hit 99 percent, and Tripadvisor’s core business generated only 79 percent of 2019 revenue.

Online Travel

Google Will No Longer Be a Place to Book Travel as Fewer Travelers Were Using It

2 years ago

Google announced it will shut Book on Google for flights for users outside the U.S. at the end of September, and told Skift it will likewise end the feature in the U.S. sometime after March 31.

It turns out, a declining number of users were booking their flights on Google, which acknowledged that travelers would rather book their flights with online travel agencies or directly with airlines.

Google Flights will end doing its own airline bookings. Source: Sean O’Neill

To be clear, Google Flights is not shutting down, but will continue to enable travelers to click on airline and online travel agency links to book their flights, as they have done for years for the vast majority of flights. What changes is that Google will no longer take a small share of bookings on Google channels, but will refer all users to partners for bookings.

Eliminating the feature likewise doesn’t hurt Google’s case to beat back regulatory efforts to diminish its power on antitrust grounds.

With the Book on Google feature for flights, travelers can book on Google, but Google was just facilitating the booking for that airline or online travel agency, and the latter provided the customer service function. Google wasn’t charging airlines for the feature.

“Over the next 12 months, we plan to phase out the Book on Google feature for Flights,” Google stated. “We originally offered this functionality to give people a simpler way to buy their tickets and to help our partner airlines and OTAs receive more bookings. However, we’ve found over time that people actually want to book directly on partner websites, and we always strive to meet user preferences whenever possible.”

Some pundits saw Book on Google as the company creeping toward becoming an online travel agency, but that never appeared to be the intent. Google makes too much money on travel advertising to want to directly compete with its biggest partners. Google also has no interest in dealing with flight changes and cancellations, or in providing customer service to stranded travelers.

Google ended Book on Google for hotels earlier in 2022.

Google launched Book on Google in 2015 as a way to facilitate bookings for airlines and online travel agencies in an era when many of their mobile websites weren’t particularly sophisticated.

But partners’ mobile capabilities have improved in the interim, and Google said it saw a declining share of flight bookings coming from the Book on Google feature.

Many metasearch sites over the years have tried these types of facilitated bookings for partner airlines and hotels, but with a few exceptions, such as HomeToGo in Germany, this type of feature has been waning for years.

Online Travel

Lastminute.com Group Names Interim CEO to Replace 2 Execs Detained by Swiss Authorities

2 years ago

Lastminute.com Group announced Monday that the board appointed Laura Amoretti as interim CEO, effective immediately, and stripped CEO Fabio Cannavale and Chief Operating Officer Andrea Bertoli of all duties at the company for three months because of the Swiss fraud investigation.

Cannavale and Bertoli have been detained by Swiss authorities over allegations that the Amsterdam-based online travel company misused Swiss-provided Covid-relief aid.

The board announced it will launch a search for a permanent CEO.

Amoretti has served as the Group’s chief customer officer since 2019.

Board chairman Laurent Foata said in a statement: “Laura is a very committed and dynamic leader with vision, energy and substantial relevant experience with our group. Her contribution will be especially precious at this juncture. We look forward to engaging closely with Laura in her new role as she will lead our business forward in this stage of our journey towards profitable growth in the field of travel.”