After two years of unprecedented upheaval and challenges for
individuals and businesses around the world, 2022 felt a bit more “normal” – if
there is such a thing.
While not on the scope of a global pandemic, the war in
Ukraine, the climate and energy crises, inflation and political unrest continue
to cause unease.
But in many parts of the world, travel was back in full
swing throughout 2022. And while that’s been positive for many travel operators
and suppliers, it has also exposed weaknesses (remember the airport chaos last
summer?) – and on the positive side, spurred innovation.
2022 was also a notable year for us at PhocusWire as we
marked our fifth anniversary in November.
Throughout the year, we did our best to provide interesting
and useful coverage of the industry through in-depth articles, breaking news
and opinion pieces from industry leaders – and we look forward
to providing more relevant and thought-provoking content to you in 2023.
Our editorial team is proud to present the top 10
stories that captured the most attention with readers over the last 12 months.
And check out our 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 lists for a
quick refresh on what we were talking about in past years.
From 2022, in reverse order...
Group revamps marketplace, tech platform as part of new strategy
The Expedia Group of two years ago is no more, according to
company vice chairman and CEO Peter Kern, who came onboard around this time in
2020 to replace former CEO Mark Okerstrom.
At the company’s annual Explore partner event, Expedia Group
unveiled a new three-tiered strategy designed to serve its partners, travelers
and the industry, including a new technology platform called Expedia Group Open
World and a system that rewards hotels for providing a better guest experience.
“This isn’t the Expedia Group we were two years ago, let
alone two decades ago,” says Kern.
a recession would be a boom for vacation rental supply
It is a foregone conclusion that we
are heading into a recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER),
which officially declares recessions, defines a recession as
a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting
more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment,
industrial production and whole-retail sales.
As JPMorgan Chase’s CEO Jamie Dimon said
at a financial conference in May, “You
know, I said there’s storm clouds but I’m going to change it… it’s a hurricane.
While conditions seem ‘fine’ at the moment, nobody knows if the hurricane is a
minor one or Superstorm Sandy…. You’d better brace yourself.”
it's time for travel to enter the metaverse
In the last year, “metaverse” has become one of the buzziest
words – driven in large part by Facebook’s rebranding its parent company with
the name Meta in October 2021.
But Facebook is just one of the many major companies keenly
interested in the metaverse. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Gucci are some of the
other mainstream brands working to stake a claim in this three-dimensional,
And metaverse and Web3 consultant Steve Bambury says now is
the time for travel brands to make moves toward creating a presence in the
metaverse – or risk getting left behind.
to phase out Book on Google for flights
After announcing in February it would shutter its Book on
Google option for hotels, the search giant has confirmed it will phase out the
feature for flights, as well, as consumers preference shifts to booking direct.
According to Google, it will disable Book on Google for
non-U.S. users on September 30, 2022, and for U.S. users on or after March 31,
Amadeus and Travelport pull fares from Russian carrier Aeroflot following
Aeroflot has just found itself with a significant hurdle to
overcome if it wants to continue operations - Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport
have removed fares from the airline from their systems.
Sabre was the first of the main global distribution systems
to issue a statement that it has axed its distribution with the Russian
government majority-owned airline.
The decision was made in the wake of the invasion by Russian
armed forces of neighboring country Ukraine last week.
trends shaping travel fintech in 2022
While the travel industry has been gradually recovering from
the COVID-19 pandemic, new payments trends have been quietly developing behind
the scenes. The increasing convergence of fintech and travel is undeniably one
of the most significant and interesting changes we’ve seen recently in travel
Whether it is new payment methods being offered by travel
providers, advances in how money moves between industry participants or travel
companies offering fully fledged fintech products, change is happening at a
4. The state
of online travel agencies
online travel market is expected to grow 18% in 2022 to $76.7 billion, a figure
just shy of 2019 gross bookings, new research from Phocuswright reveals.
According to the U.S. Online Travel Agency Market
Report 2021-2025, OTA gross bookings are on track to surpass pre-pandemic levels
in 2023, though international travel will continue to recover slower than
domestic. For 2021, OTAs delivered $65.2 in gross bookings, reaching 82% of
pre-pandemic levels. Overall, OTAs accounted for 24% of gross bookings in the
United States in 2021, up from a 20% share in 2020.
Phocuswright’s research reveals
that for the U.S. core OTA business (excluding Vrbo and Egencia), Expedia and
Booking collectively accounted for roughly 93% of the OTA leisure and unmanaged
travel business market in 2021.
NFTs and the metaverse mean for airline loyalty programs
If you’ve been even remotely keeping up with emerging tech
and trends, you’ve certainly heard about NFTs and the metaverse.
While these terms might sound like the start of a dystopian
piece of fiction you have no desire to be a part of, they also offer up some
intriguing real-world use cases if used in an applicable manner.
This applies to the airline industry, which has been
particularly impacted by emerging technology over the course of the past
decade. Specifically, it’s fascinating to see how airline loyalty programs
could be reimagined with NFTs and the metaverse.
on Google for hotels to shut after low take-up
Google will shut down its “Book on Google” option for hotels
as of May 25 due to low usage from both partners and consumers.
Google launched the option in 2015 to facilitate transactions
for hotels and online travel agencies whose sites were not optimized for mobile
web, which at the time was beginning to overtake desktops for internet usage.
Partners that offer the Book on Google link remain the
merchant for the booking, but the reservation and payment information is
captured in a Google-hosted form and then passed directly to the partner.
1. Presenting the
Hot 25 Travel Startups for 2023
It has long been said that creativity and innovation often
arrive in times of crisis. Our selections of the Hot 25 Travel Startups for
2023 certainly validate that mantra.
Of the 25 startups on this list, 14 have been founded since
the start of 2020 when travel - and much else in the world - came to a halt as
people around the world faced the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, nine of the 25
launched in 2021 – and are already showing enough promise to warrant their
It was not an easy task. We began with more than 120
startups to consider. In making our selections, we’ve looked for indicators of
innovation and growth potential and focused on startups no more than five years
since founding. We have also made an effort to find companies that represent
diversity in sector, location and founders.
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