Industry Update
External Article25 September 2020

Travel and hospitality will take another three years to recover, says Booking Holdings CEO

Glenn Fogel said the group racked up over 40% of its new bookings from people who wanted alternative accommodation in the second quarter, which is maybe twice of where it was earlier.

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In an interaction with ET's Samidha Sharma, Booking Holdings, president & chief executive Glenn D Fogel talks about his business, the pandemic driving growth for alternative accommodation, why it will take a long time for the travel industry to recover, and his own experience as a Covid-19 patient. Edited excerpts:

We are hosting the ET Global Business Summit virtually for the first time, which means no airline travel and no hotel bookings and no dining out. This severely hits all of your businesses whether it's Priceline, Agoda, OpenTable or How have you navigated through this unprecedented situation even as you tested positive for Covid-19 early on in the pandemic?

It's a very difficult time for everybody. Nobody has been able to escape the problems of this pandemic and my family and I, we all came down with the virus. But, fortunately, we recovered very quickly. But I know so many people personally who have had such terrible times with this illness.

While dealing with the fear of your own personal health and your family's health, we were also dealing with the lives and the health of 27,000 employees of the Booking Holdings organisation — it's very difficult. But you have to react and have to take the necessary steps to try to make sure that you do everything possible to preserve what we had created over 20 years.

The travel and hospitality sector has seen massive job losses. How are you keeping your folks motivated? What is bringing them back to work at a time like this?

We have taken every single step we can to try and preserve as much employment as possible. Of course, the travel industry has been hit more than any industry around the world. We had to restructure the organisation and unfortunately about 25% of our employees will have to go on to do other things.

It's so sad but the thing that touched me was the morale of the people. Everybody recognises this is what we have to do to preserve and have a company going forward. But I know there is a future for all of us. This pandemic will end at some point. Economies will come back. Jobs will be there. And we will get through this.

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