Travelocity founding vice chairman Jim Hornthal and Air Canada distribution chief Al Lenza were inducted into the Phocuswright Hall Of Fame last week.
They were joined by Phocuswright co-founders Philip Wolf and wife Carol Hutzelman for the inaugural year, credited for their work in bringing the online travel industry together through the creation of The Phocuswright Conference.
Lorraine Sileo, senior vice president of research at Phocuswright, says each of the four honorees are "figuratively, and literally, responsible for our industry gathering at the Phocuswright Conference."
"They took a chance on the fledgling online travel market 20-plus years ago and helped to create and elevate the dynamic industry we have today. As the industry evolves and innovates, we remember our roots by honoring these visionaries."
During the event, held at a dinner midway through the conference in Los Angeles, Lenza recalled that Orbitz was funded by airlines just nine days before 9/11 - and never received another penny from the carriers, who quickly migrated to survival mode. Had the funding been scheduled for 10 days later, Orbitz would never have existed, he noted.
Hornthal noted that when he had first made a deal with America Online, back when it had only one million subscribers, he got a small portion of the $19.95 users paid for every hour they were in his area of the service.
When he read that AOL had changed the user fee to a flat $35 a month, he asked Ted Lyonsis, then-president of AOL, how that would affect his payment. "He said, 'Well, now you’re going to be paying us.' We figured it out."
Wolf thanked the pre-internet travel industry of 1994 to 1995 for dismissing him, rejecting the internet and mocking Phocuswright, "thus opening up the world’s largest industry to an unprecedented wave of new players."