Travel Metasearch’s Big Issues



Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at metasearch and changing consumer habits, United’s next Boeing issue, and an Ohtani tourism boost.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, April 2. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Travel metasearch sites, which enable consumers to compare hotel or flight prices from multiple vendors simultaneously, had been thriving since the early days of online travel. But the sector is experiencing a rough patch now, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. 

Schaal writes some of the major travel metasearch players have had financial issues in recent years, noting Google has eaten into Tripadvisor’s metasearch market share. Tripadvisor’s hotel metasearch revenue grew only 7% in 2023. Meanwhile, Trivago recorded a roughly $176 million loss last year. 

Wells Fargo Managing Director Brian Fitzgerald said factors other than increased competition from Google have contributed to the struggles of travel metasearch companies. Hotels in particular have been able to attract more direct traffic through their loyalty programs.

Next, United Airlines is offering pilots unpaid time off in May due to delivery delays with Boeing jets, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi. 

The carrier said its projected 2024 block hours — the industry’s standard measure for aircraft use — have been cut. So United pilots now have the option of taking unpaid time off to help reduce excess staffing. Boeing delivery delays have also impacted hiring at United, with the airline announcing it would halt pilot hiring in May and June. 

Finally, baseball star Shohei Ohtani could boost tourism to the U.S. this season after joining the Los Angeles Dodgers — that is, if he isn’t suspended for being involved in an ongoing gambling scandal, writes Associate Editor Rashaad Jorden. 

Japanese travel agency JTB is looking to take advantage of the huge interest in Japan in seeing Ohtani play for the Dodgers. JTB, which agreed to an international partnership with Major League Baseball earlier this year, is offering travel packages to Ohtani’s regular season games in the U.S. JTB Branding and PR Manager Kaori Mori said the company saw enormous demand in the travel packages it offered for the season-opening series in South Korea between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

Ohtani has been mired in controversy recently, as his longtime interpreter has been accused of stealing millions of dollars from Ohtani to cover a gambling debt. But Mori said she believes more Japanese fans want to travel to the U.S. to watch Ohtani, who has denied betting on baseball. 

Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos



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