Skift Travel News Blog

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

Travel Booking

Pandemic Didn’t Change How Marketers Target Pre-Trip Planning: Tripadvisor Survey

6 days ago

Travelers make multiple purchases in preparation for their trip, a consideration Tripadvisor believes should be noticed by marketers. The company honed in on the purchasing intent of its audience and found that despite rising prices, plans to travel is on par with 2019 levels.

Tripadvisor’s latest research report, with some 5,000 respondents across six countries, indicates purchasing behavior of travelers and its influence across industries is being overlooked.

It’s one thing that the pandemic did not disrupt in travel.

The intent when planning a trip is broader than flights, accommodations, and activities, according Tripadvisor.

“Part of the fun for travelers is the planning (and spending!) before a trip. Consumers find travel is a great excuse to buy new clothes, special toys, or just the right gear.”

Of those surveyed, the most bought item in preparation for a trip is clothes (89 percent), followed by luggage (72 percent), and electronics (62 percent). Tripadvisor stated these are “not one-off purchases, with respondents (luggage being an exception) buying these items at least 2-3 times in the past three years before traveling.”

And while three-quarters of those surveyed do plan to reduce discretionary spending, cuts to travel plans are a no-go “with saving for future vacations the top priority.”

Online Travel

Google Flights and Hotels Make Europe-Mandated Transparency Changes … in Europe

1 week ago

Google made changes to Google Flights and Hotels related to transparency in hotel reviews and pricing under pressure from the European Commission — but stopped short of making those modifications elsewhere in the world.

“Reviews aren’t verified,” Google states in the European Union. Source: Google

At the behest of the European Commission, Google added text in hotel reviews in European Union countries, noting “Reviews aren’t verified.”

Unlike online travel agencies, Google doesn’t take bookings so it would be hard-pressed to verify user reviews. Tripadvisor, likewise, doesn’t verify hotel reviews for the same reason.

Clicking further into Google’s explanatory language about user reviews in Europe, Google states that it accepts reviews from signed-in users — there’s no requirement that they ever stayed at that particular hotel — and licenses reviews from third-parties. “Google doesn’t do any additional filtering for spam or inappropriate language beyond that done by the provider, nor do we verify these reviews,” Google states.

The European Commission stated that Google accepted this disclosure about hotel reviews and additional transparency commitments that other hotel-booking platforms such as Expedia Group and Booking.com agreed to on pricing and availability.

“The commitments made by Google are a step forward in this direction. We call on Google to comply fully with  the Geo-blocking Regulation, ensuring that consumers can enjoy the same rights and access the same content, wherever they are in the EU,” European Commission Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in the announcement statement.

Google agreed to these changes about user reviews, consented to disclose that Google Flights and Google Hotels is merely a middleman, and agreed to provide greater clarity when presenting discounted pricing, explaining that such deals are merely a reference point. But Google decided to make these changes in Europe only — and not in other geographies around the world where regulators were not providing heat.

“As part of our ongoing dialogue with the European Commission and the EU’s Consumer Protection Cooperation Network, we have made changes to our products that provide a clear benefit and protect consumers,” a Google spokesperson stated. “We appreciate the partnership on this topic and are open to constructive dialogue with all consumer associations and regulators.”

Google’s hotel reviews in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have no added language explaining the reviews are not verified. So travelers might erroneously believe that everyone writing reviews about these hotels actually stayed a night or two there.

A Google hotel review module in the U.S. has no language to let travelers know that the reviews are not verified reviews. Source: Google

Google frequently talks about helping travelers and other consumers to discover information as being one of its top priorities. However, the search engine giant, perhaps in the interests of providing a cleaner user interface that wouldn’t get in the way of users clicking on hotel ads, sacrificed transparency for expediency in the rest of the world.

Google is not alone in doing what regulators demand in one geography, but not expanding it to other regions for the good of consumers. For example, for several years Airbnb has shown the total price of stays, including taxes, up-front in the European Union at the urging of the European Commission. However, it was only this year that Airbnb became displaying the total rate, albeit without taxes included, instead of just the nightly rate without fees at first glance, in other geographies.

Business Travel

Ashton Kutcher’s Venture Firm Leads $15 Million Investment in Climate Tech Startup

4 weeks ago

Actor (and travel tech investor) Ashton Kutcher is at it again, as his Sound Ventures venture capital firm has co-led a $15 million investment in climate tech company Chooose.

It’s the latest in a long chapter of travel investing for Kutcher, revealed on Friday, with previous deals including Affirm, Airbnb, Hipmunk and Citymaps, which was bought by TripAdvisor .

Norway-based Chooose, which offers climate solutions such as carbon offsetting, carbon removals and sustainable aviation fuel, already works with global companies and airlines including British Airways, Air Canada and Japan Airlines. It also works with Booking.com, Trip.com and SAP Concur.

Startups like this have fast emerged out of the need to give companies better insight into their carbon footprints when flying. This extra capital will go towards scaling up its platform, and further “embed climate action solutions into customer experiences.” It also plans to expand into new geographies, thanks to the funding provided by Soundwaves, which is the sustainability-focused vehicle of Kutcher’s fund.

GenZero, a decarbonisation-focused investment company owned by Singapore’s Temasek, also co-led the investment round. Existing investors Shell Ventures and Vinyl Capital also participated in the strategic capital round. Other current investors include travel technology giant Amadeus and Contrarian VC.

UPDATE: This article was amended to remove the series B mention, which had originally been provided.

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Names Former Booking Holdings Finance Official as New Chief Financial Officer

4 months ago

Tripadvisor will replace longtime chief financial officer Ernst Teunissen with Michael Noonan, a former Booking Holdings vice president of finance, effective October 31.

Tripadvisor, who several months ago saw the appointment of Matt Goldberg as CEO, replacing Steve Kaufer, said Teunissen, who served as chief financial officer for the past seven years, will leave “to pursue other interests.”

Michael Noonan, Tripadvisor’s new CFO. Source: Tripadvisor.

In addition to his chief financial officer role, Teunissen also served as chief executive of Tripadvisor brands Viator, The Fork and Cruise Critic.

Tripadvisor said Noonan, who has three decades of finance experience, most previously served as chief financial officer of the health app Noom. He was in that role since October 2020.

Tripadvisor didn’t say who, if anyone, might assume Teunissen’s role at Viator, The Fork and Cruise Critic. He will stay on through the first quarter of 2023 for transition purposes.

“I would like to thank Ernst, also on behalf of our Board of Directors, for his many valuable contributions over the past seven years, and personally for the counsel he has provided through my own onboarding,” Goldberg said in a statement. “His guidance, especially through the volatile pandemic period, has been key to our strong financial position.  Moreover, his leadership of Viator, TheFork, and Cruise Critic, has driven strong revenue growth for these strategic businesses coming out of the pandemic.”

Online Travel

Booking.com Adds Klook To Its Roster of Activities Providers

4 months ago

Booking.com expanded the geographic reach of its tours and activities offerings in Asia by entering a long-term strategic partnership with Klook, Booking.com announced Monday.

Madame Tussauds Singapore source Merlin Entertainments
The set of a Bollywood movie at Madame Tussauds Singapore. Travelers can buy tickets to this attraction and have their reservations instantly confirmed via Klook, an online travel agency that specializes in experiences. Madame Source: Merlin Entertainments

“Klook experiences are now live in over 175 cities, across over 30 markets on Booking.com, and the majority of these are available in Asia and Oceania,” Booking.com stated as it cited Klook as “the category leader for experiences in Asia.”

Booking.com is headquartered in Amsterdam, and Klook is based in Singapore.

Booking.com already had provider agreements with TUI’s Musement, based in Europe, and Tripadvisor’s Viator, which is headquartered in the U.S.

Booking.com sister company Priceline last week announced that it, too, hooked up with Musement to access tours and activities.

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Begins Letting U.S. and Canadian Hotels and Restaurants Self-Identify as Woman- Or Black-Owned and More

5 months ago

Tripadvisor began letting some hotels in the U.S. and Canada self-identify in their business listings if they are woman-owned, Black-owned, or Asian-owned, for example.

Other categories include Disability-owned, Hispanic/Latinx-owned, Indigenous-owned, LGBTQIA+-owned, and Veteran-owned.

Tripadvisor doesn’t verify whether indeed the business is at least 51 percent owned — which is the criteria — by that group. That’s similar to its approach to user reviews.

Beach Hill Smokehouse in Toronto self-identifies as Black-owned. Source: Tripadvisor.

Businesses must have claimed their listing, can self-identify in more than one category, and then that self-identification would be noted under the listings details in both the Tripadvisor website and app, Tripadvisor said. Tripadvisor sees itself as a platform, which enables people to make judgments based on the “wisdom of the crowds,” so to speak.

The new woman-owned or veteran-owned designations, for example, specify that the restaurant or hotel identifies themselves in this manner.

Tripadvisor has been testing the new feature, and stated that “hundreds” of businesses already have taken advantage of it. It plans to roll out the feature more broadly.

The company said its intent was “to make its platform more inclusive of the diverse communities using its influential website and app.” The hope is that travelers may gravitate toward businesses that are woman-owned or Asian-owned if that is their inclination.

Online Travel

Google Travel Grabs Larger Share of U.S. Desktop Traffic During Pandemic

7 months ago

Google Travel’s flight and hotel offerings gained the most desktop traffic market share in the U.S. during the pandemic while Tripadvisor lost the most on a percentage basis, according to Similarweb’s June data.

“Google Travel now owns one-fourth of all (U.S.) desktop visits to top travel sites,” Similarweb said.

Similarweb

In its earnings call about second quarter financials Tuesday, Google said travel and retail were the drivers of its advertising revenue during the period.

The following chart shows Google Travel’s U.S. desktop market share increased 6 percentage points to 24 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of pre-pandemic 2019.

U.S. Desktop Market Share Traffic Gains/Losses H1 2019 Versus H1 2022

Site20192022
Google Travel18%24%
Booking.com14%16%
Airbnb14%15%
Expedia13%13%
Southwest6%6%
Vrbo4%6%
Marriott5%5%
Delta8%4%
TripAdvisor9%4%

Source: Simillarweb

“Booking has also gained 2 percentage points of share in the U.S., and only Kayak (-1 percentage point), Delta (-4 percentage points), and TripAdvisor (-5 percentage points) have lost share,” Similarweb said.

There are two points to keep in mind: These numbers don’t include traffic from mobile devices, and traffic to Google Travel often gets sent along to online travel agency advertisers.

Online Travel

Tripadvisor CEO Steve Kaufer Officially Steps Down and Looks Forward to Next Chapter

7 months ago

Tripadvisor co-founder Steve Kaufer has stepped down as CEO after 22 years, as expected, and Matt Goldberg took over.

Tripadvisor co-founder and CEO Steve Kaufer. Tripadvisor

In a Twitter post Friday, Kaufer offered “some parting thoughts” and said he welcomed any ideas on a new gig that would be “disruptive, challenging and impactful.”

Kaufer and Tripadvisor had a deep impact on how travel is planned and purchased as user-generated content became a staple, and all of the major brands, from online travel agencies to hotels and airlines, followed that path. Tripadvisor signage and plaudits took their place in restaurant and hotel storefronts, and lobbies around the world.

In this post from November, when Tripadvisor began a search for Kaufer’s successor, we touched on some of Kaufer’s big wins and failures.

Beyond profits and revenue marks, Kaufer will known as one of a handful of executives in the travel industry to speak out against former President Donald Trump’s Muslim bans, and anti-immigrant policies.

Whether it is as an angel investor or leading another company, be it a startup or something more established, the business world certainly will hear again from the guy who helped create, from the perch of a Massachusetts pizzeria, what would become a household-name brand, Tripadvisor.

Online Travel

Booking Holdings Takes Restaurant Competition to Asia-Pacific With Inline Investment

8 months ago

Booking Holdings’ OpenTable dining reservations platform, which is strongest in the U.S., and Inline Group, with strength in Asia-Pacific, have entered into a strategic partnership where their customers will be able to reserve tables in the establishments of their respective restaurant partners.

In tandem with the strategic partnership, Booking Holdings made an investment in Inline Group. The companies did not announcement the amount.

A file photo of Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, at his first Santan restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AirAsia Group

Inline powers dining reservations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and the U.S., according to its website.

“Inline has quickly built a leadership position in select markets in Asia and is growing throughout the region,” Debby Soo, OpenTable CEO, said in a statement. “We’re delighted to partner with them as we expand OpenTable’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In Booking Holdings’ strongest region, Europe, Tripadvisor’s TheFork is the strongest player in dining reservations. So Booking is investing apparently where it sees the best opportunity — Asia-Pacific.

Tourism

Inflation Concerns Likely To Push People to Domestic Trips: New Data from Tripadvisor

9 months ago

One of the biggest concerns for the global travel industry’s recovery coming out of the pandemic lows has been inflation and how it would affect people’s intent to travel. While summer looks like it will be a big one for the travel industry, here is some early survey data from Tripadvisor that people are willing to sacrifice other non-essentials for their plans to travel, particularly domestic travel.

Mother and daughters holding hands

From Tripadvisor, surveys conducted in United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Singapore show while travel behaviors might change for some as a result from June-August (shorter trips or preference for domestic travel), consumers across the globe are refusing to give up their desire to vacation or holiday, especially in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer months. More than a third of global respondents report they intend to travel more in 2022 than they did in 2021, which bodes well for the ongoing travel recovery.

Inflation Concerns

Inflation is a significant concern for the majority of respondents within the survey, with 74% reporting they were “extremely” or “very” concerned about the rising costs of goods and services.

CountryConcerned
United States74%
United Kingdom77%
Australia70%
Japan69%
Singapore77%

Continuing inflation will likely affect non-essential spending habits: 79% said they would spend less on non-essentials if prices continue to go up:

CountrySpending Less
United States77%
United Kingdom83%
Australia84%
Japan68%
Singapore82%

When it comes to cutting down on non-essential spending, dining out and clothes top the list (items consumers will cut down on the most):

CountryDining OutClothes
United States73%57%
United Kingdom76%64%
Australia76%63%
Japan69%52%
Singapore64%62%

On the other hand, fewer people plan cuts to domestic travel, TV/music subscriptions, and international travel than other options (items consumers will cut down on the least):

  • United States: international travel (37%) and domestic travel (38%)
  • United Kingdom: domestic travel (35%) and TV/music subscriptions (45%)
  • Australia: domestic travel (37%) and TV/music subscriptions (39%)
  • Japan: TV/music subscriptions (22%) and technology purchases (32%)
  • Singapore: domestic travel (26%) and TV/music subscriptions (38%)

In fact, those surveyed would sacrifice a range of non-essentials to fund their next vacation:

  • United States: food deliveries (57%) and nights out (54%)
  • United Kingdom: nights out (60%) and dining out (57%)
  • Australia: food deliveries (62%) and nights out (60%)
  • Japan: food deliveries (59%) and gym membership (58%)
  • Singapore: Entertainment (attending gigs/concerts) (56%) and gym membership (54%)

Not surprisingly, rising costs will have some effect on travel this summer: 33% will likely take shorter trips, and 32% may travel closer to home:

CountryShorter TripsClose to Home
United States32%31%
United Kingdom27%30%
Australia29%35%
Japan37%19%
Singapore42%39%

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