Another year to forget, no doubt - but a year in which the editorial team again produced some of its best work since PhocusWire launched in November 2017.
We've published our own exclusive news stories, featured a range of opinions from some of the smartest people in the industry and analyzed some of the big developments of 2021.
The travel industry is continuing to learn how to be better, as it attempts to recover from a global pandemic, be more inclusive and embrace technology.
We look forward to providing more important, relevant and thought-provoking content to you in 2022.
The editorial team at PhocusWire is proud to present the top 10 stories that captured the most attention with readers over the last 12 months (check out our 2020, 2019 and 2018 lists)
In reverse order...
10. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky: "It's going to be a year of focus"
If there's one thing Brian Chesky is focused on in 2021, that would be, well, focus. So much so that the Airbnb co-founder and CEO said the word seven times throughout a roughly 20-minute interview during Bloomberg's The Year Ahead online event last week.
"It's going to be a year of focus," Chesky told Bloomberg Television anchor Emily Chang. Not only has focus helped Airbnb withstand the coronavirus pandemic, he says, but it will also be what sets the company up to capitalize on travel's rebound – which is "not a matter of 'if'; it's a matter of 'when.'" Importantly, focus is what also allowed Airbnb to go public last year, against all the odds.
9. Google highlights travel trends that will shape 2022
As travel and the industry moves through the recovery from the pandemic, Google has identified three key areas that will grow in importance over the next year.
According to the online search giant, heading into 2022, travel will become more meaningful, with a rise in “life moments” that were put on hold because of the pandemic.
8. Marriott joins IHG on Amadeus reservations platform
Amadeus is calling its deal to bring Marriott International on to its Central Reservation System "a landmark milestone" for the technology and distribution company.
The Spain-based distribution giant announced Intercontinental Hotels (IHG) as the launch partner for the technology back in 2015 and hoped to bring on similar enterprise level companies as well as mid-sized players to create a community platform in the ensuing years.
7. Booking Holdings acquires ETraveli Group for €1.6 billion
ETraveli Group is now part of the Booking Holdings portfolio of businesses following a €1.63 billion takeover.
Existing owner CVC Capital Partners has owned the Sweden-based business since 2017.
It's the second major acquisition for Booking Holdings in the space of two weeks, after it bought hotel distributor Getaroom for $1.6 billion.
6. Sounding Off: GDS consolidation can only be considered after survival
It’s hard to see consolidation between Amadeus and Sabre, and the majority of Travelsky, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is state owned.
So that leaves private equity-owned Travelport, which raises the question of what it offers either Amadeus or Sabre?
The merchandizing platform might be attractive although both have been developing their own capabilities in that area.
5. How Booking.com gained market share while we were in lockdown
During the pandemic, many hotels have seen their direct sales grow exponentially within their channel mix. Meanwhile, on the sly, Booking.com has also managed to increase its share with almost no resistance.
Given the current situation, where many channels are still not appearing and we don’t know if they will be activated this season, Booking.com has become the basket where most of your distribution eggs are stored.
4. Expedia sells Egencia to American Express Global Business Travel
A deal that was perhaps unlikely just 12 months ago: American Express Global Business Travel is to buy Expedia Group's corporate travel division Egencia.
Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Expedia Group will become a shareholder in Amex GBT and part of the agreement will see the pair enter a long-term strategic partnership.
The proposed deal is subject to consultation by Expedia Group and Egencia with employee representatives, as well as customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.
3. Google eliminates fees for hotel booking links
Google is making a major change to the way it manages hotel booking links – adding an organic list that enables hotels, online travel agencies and other booking sites to get visibility for free, provides more extensive booking options for consumers and potentially makes Google an even more competitive player in the metasearch space.
Prior to this change, hotel booking links in Google.com/travel were paid ads, ranked by the traditional advertiser bidding model.
2. Welcome to the Hot 25 Startups for 2022
For each of the companies on this year’s list, we are sharing details provided to us by the founders in their own words – a description of the company, strategic goals for 2022 and lessons learned over the course of the past year. We’ve also included links to PhocusWire’s past coverage of these startups, as applicable.
1. Why Bill Gates is wrong and business won't die in 2021
The COVID‐19 pandemic will no doubt drastically change the way business gets done moving forward, especially when it comes to travel. Microsoft co‐founder Bill Gates has even predicted that over 50% of business travel will go away permanently now that remote work and virtual meetings have become the norm.
While I’m sure he would offer Microsoft’s Teams as a worthy substitute for face‐to‐face business deals, Gates’ dire travel prediction substantially underestimates three key factors.