intermediaries such as Hopper, Trivago and Etraveli Group sit squarely in the
middle of multiple stakeholders: travelers, partners, investors and employees.
dynamics while continuing drive product innovation and growth can be
In a panel
discussion at Phocuswright Europe
2022, Hopper chief strategy officer Dakota Smith says intermediaries can
provide unique value on the product development side because they may have the
advantage of newer technology systems than some of the suppliers that are
constrained by legacy platforms.
But that type of innovation still requires collaboration and coordination.
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As Trivago CEO
Axel Hefer explains: “You cannot
just come up with a good idea and develop it yourself and then all of a sudden the
value is created. You need to come up with a new feature or a twist to your
original idea and then work to with many, many partners to really create the
value for the customer.”
Along with Etraveli Group senior
vice president for corporate development Lisa Katsouraki, the panel also
discusses the importance of maintaining focus as a company grows – and the enduring
question of “buy or build.”
the non-fundamental things to your core value proposition, you have to buy and
not build,” Smith says.
“And that’s something you have to
combat when you are trying to scale up a technology company, it’s easy to fall into
that trap of trying build every single feature and functionality.”
Regarding acquisitions, Katsouraki
– whose company
was acquired by Booking Holdings in 2021 - says, “You have to make sure that
the overlap is always as minimal as possible to make sure you are not
destroying any value.”
The panelists also discuss the economy
and impact of a recession on the travel industry.
“For [Trivago] it means the cost-consciousness
of the consumer is likely to go up. ... That’s where we are focusing our
innovation power on,” Hefer says.
Smith says for Hopper, the
economic slowdown is driving a shift in mindset at the company, which in 2021
had two funding rounds of $170
million and $175
“We have to ... continue to innovate
on behalf of our customers and capture market share, but we have do it in a way
that leads eventually to profitability, that doesn’t have an implicit
assumption that we will be able to raise more money again freely, or as freely
as 2021 and 2020."
Watch the full discussion with Phocuswright research manager Coney Dongre below.
Executive Roundtable: Mastering the Middle - Phocuswright Europe 2022