Last Week in Travel: A new CEO, a bleak airline outlook, a hot startup goes into hibernation

Plus a podcast episode for some perspective on what's ahead

Following travel industry news is like drinking from a firehose these days. When I began my foray into podcasting, I decided my intros would include a quick roundup of the biggest headlines of the last few days, to place in the episode in time.

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 Last Thursday, when I recorded my second interview, with Phocuswright research founder Lorraine Sileo the roundup was:

  • Expedia took on $3.2B in new debt, including $1.2B from private equity firms Apollo and Silver Lake (also a recent investor in Airbnb)

  • Expedia named Peter Kern CEO more than four months after Mark Okerstrom’s ouster.

  • Delta, the first US carrier to report Q1 earnings, saw an 18% year-on-year decline in passenger revenue. The second quarter will be worse; Delta is cutting capacity by 85%.

What we see above is three companies fighting just to survive this pandemic. It’s fair to say none of these things would have happened without the pandemic (possible exception of Kern in the CEO role, but if they were going to put the vice chairman of the board in charge, why wait four months?)

With developments moving so fast across the industry, it was a perfect time to sit down to chat with, excuse my corny casual language, an online travel OG who has just written a series of updates on the US travel industry for Phocuswright. In this episode, Lorraine and I discuss the prospects for some semblance of a summer travel season in 2020, and then touch briefly on each segment of travel – air, hotels, private rentals, car rental cruise and activities.

Whether you are a podcast listener or not, I also want to make you aware of the recommendations that Lorraine and I give in this episode.

               Maggie’s recommendation: Rt.live, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom’s state-by-state contagion rate tracker. I’m a little suspicious of a tech founder playing epidemiologist, but it’s a slick data tool.

               Lorraine’s recommendations: Smith Travel Research, the premier provider of hospitality industry data and insights, has been opening its books a little to share data with the industry, and hosting informative free webinars. And Forward Keys, which tracks global passenger flows, has a holistic picture of where travelers are going, and how that compares to prior years.

NOTE: I’m still learning the audio editing ropes. If you downloaded the latest podcast episode, you might have a messy version. If you encounter issues with the audio, just re-download for the amended version. Thanks!