Roma.- Travel recovery is not only on the horizon, but at the around the corner.
Things are looking good for Expedia Group. Well, if anything, relatively well. Its third quarter earnings report shows that the company is still raising $ 1.5 billion quarterly, exceeding expectations of the pandemic, even if that represents $ 221 million in losses. Parts of the business, like airline ticket sales, may have collapsed, but others, like the VRBO home rental platform, make up for it.
Instead of looking back, however, Peter Kern – who took over the leadership of the company in April – prefers to wait. Even compared to other bullish industry leaders, Kern is firm in his belief that travel recovery it may be sooner than we imagined. And it will not only be on wooded trails and scenic roads, but also in large, dense cities and on asphalt.
“Rome has been through a plague or two,” he says, repeating an idea that he has expressed many times during the pandemic. And it’s still there. New York has been through all kinds of things. It is not the first time that we have civil unrest, “he explains. “It was a very different place, in terms of safety, when I was growing up in the 70s, but we still went there.”
And while it is true that a calmer New York still maintains the vibrancy of many small towns combined, Kern feels that this story arc will tilt more, and faster, toward full recovery than ever before. “This is a moment with more science and more technology. We are not going to give up ”.
The bleak outlook for the suburbs aside, these are Kern’s broadest (and most optimistic) predictions for the future of short-term travel, From a increase in reserves, up to an ‘increase’ of the investment in restaurants and culture.
Kern firmly maintains that the news of an impending vaccine, rather than the vaccine itself, is what will propel the journey again.
“People will think, ‘Well, for the summer europe could have open borders, or could have the vaccineSo let’s book, ‘”he explains.
Pfizer’s announcement last week that its vaccine was 90% effective has yet to show a measurable impact on Expedia’s sales, but it did raise the company’s stock price by 22.5% that morning. along with similar increases for travel companies such as Marriott International and Park Hotels & Resorts.
A change in consumer confidence does not happen overnight, but it is increasing, says Kern.
Relying on airline and hotel protocols only matters when people can physically travel. Now that a second wave calls for lockdowns across much of Europe (and possibly the United States, soon), consumer confidence could be a key point.
Like others in the industry, however, Kern sees his summer sales worthy enough as proof that there is pent-up demand and reason to be hopeful that the business can grow back quickly. “Everything is terrible, but it is much less terrible than one could have imagined,” he acknowledges.
Why is mass tourism important?
Many cities can be happy with the stoppage of visitors: Amsterdam, Venice and Barcelona have dealt with too intense tourism in recent years. So how does that fit in with Kern, whose company carries weight with much of the mass tourism industry?
“Travel is a force for good and we want to help people go where and how they want to go,” he says.
“Too we want the negative impact to be reduced of tourism on the planet, and there is that will happen in many ways. But the impact has to be driven by mass tourism [en oposición al lujo]; otherwise it will not be relevant ”.
Efforts by airlines to push for biofuels, and by hotels to be more careful with bedding represent big changes across the industry. And while Kern says neither Expedia nor the travel industry as a whole is “doing enough” to drive sustainability for the planet, his plan is to make these efforts more visible to consumers. “
These consumers may not be able to assess what might be the most efficient or innovative practices. But the demand for at least some of Environmental awareness will grow exponentially.
With information from La Vanguardia magazine.
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