Following the money is always one way to pursue some kernel of truth in an always-shifting industry like travel, and one of the sessions at last week's PhoCusWright conference focused explicitly on the perspectives of the money guys.
Moderated by FBR Capital Markets & Co SVP Jake Fuller, the panel included: Hugh Crean, Entrepreneur in Residence at General Catalyst Partners, Mark Mahaney, Managing Director of Internet Research at RBC Capital Markets, Francesco De Mojana, Partner at Permira Advisors, and Sean Seton-Rogers, General Partner of PROfounders Capital.
Given the increased presence of the big players at this year's PCW - Facebook presented, Yahoo! sponsored a party, and Google had not only one of the largest booths on the exhibition floor but also dozens of employees in attendance. Travel continues to grow in interest by these larger players - and the money behind some of the stalwarts and newcomers had plenty to say about the state of travel.
The topics include Priceline.com's incredible growth over time, consolidation in the industry, what to do with cash surpluses, the "bloody competitive environment" of mobile and how excellent customer experience brings loyal customers.
Innovation was also on the table, as this was the first CenterStage session after the day-long Travel Innovation Summit.
Hugh Crean on innovation:
"We saw a lot of incredibly passionate and great entrepreneurs. What's really important is to not get in the wake of these huge behemoths. You've got to something huge that breaks out. A feature is not a business. We all know the story of David and Goliath...but the reality is 99 out of 100 times, Goliath kicks David's ass. Do something different, be bold and objectively look at what you're doing."
Regarding consolidation and using cash reserves, this is what Mark Mahaney said:
"When companies build up cash stock piles, they usually find shiny new objects to acquire. Larger online companies should look to build our vertical application, expanding internationally, and making sure you have the alternative accommodations you need."
Here's the full 30-minute journey into the headspace of the money guys.
NB: Money guy image courtesy Shutterstock.