Continued from Page 14
On the Orbitz side, we’re looking at new ways of
packaging. It will be increasingly interesting to do trip
advising and destinations searches versus just a booking
For example, before, you could search for a vacation
in Hawaii. Now, you’ll be able to say you want a beach
destination for under $1,000 a week.
Travelers have become resilient in the face of difficult
times. The switch of the strong currencies around the
world combined with a five-year low in oil prices means
outbound customers can take vacations they haven’t
been able to afford for the past five years.
[Online travel agencies] like Orbitz thrive in both up
and down economies. If suppliers have capacity that
needs to be filled, OTAs provide them both core distribution and incremental revenue through promotions
When times are good, higher average daily rates for
hotels can drive profitability by markups through the
merchant model. On the other hand, we typically earn
only per-transaction fees with airline tickets, and when
prices are low, it drives more transactions. So at the end
of the day, OTAs can benefit from high prices or low
prices, depending upon the product.
There may be some fantastic opportunities for acquisitions in 2009. We may pick up technology players who
don’t have the scale or cash flow to keep up during a
We currently operate two GDSs, and at this time, we
think there’s value in keeping both brands alive. Over
time, they may evolve into the Travelport GDS, or maybe Worldspan, or maybe Galileo. For now, we plan to
continue to operate under the multibrand strategy for
most of 2009.
Walt Disney Parks
What you typically need to do in uncertain times is,
No. 1, give people reasons to book now and not hold off
on making vacation plans.
So our underlying marketing platform, which we
call “What we celebrate,” is all about personalizing
a Disney celebration, connecting it to what you are
We decided to punctuate that by inviting guests to
come to our parks for free on their birthdays. It creates
an urgency for them to make a long-term plan to do
something they want to do anyway.
We have a great slate of things that we’re going to
continue with in 2009.
We’re going forward with products we’ve already announced, such as our resort in Hawaii, the expansion
of Disney’s California Adventure and opening four new
Vacation Club resorts. And the two new cruise ships,
we’re full speed ahead.
We are, of course, reevaluating other things, more
I don’t 100% know if we’ll be making any announcements in 2009 about new projects. We recognize the
uncertainty in the economy and are being circumspect
about when we will turn on things we’re kicking the
tires on internally.
ty to stand
And on the cost side, we’re responsibly limiting things
that don’t affect our guest experience, things in the back
It would be foolish in such unprecedented times to
say we know what next summer is going to look like,
even what Easter is going to look like.
But some things won’t change.
Our competitive set is and always will be other destinations around the world that families want to go to.
It’s Las Vegas and Europe and Branson and going up to
Maine for a summer holiday.
I think we are relatively well positioned. What
we’ve done over the past three-to-four years in terms
of reinforcing our brand and our promise to remain
relevant in people’s lives has really given us a great
I like to tell our people, “Let’s continue to be ourselves. Strange times always create an opportunity to
stand out for what you stand for.”
The situation will turn, and we want to come out of
this with our reputation completely intact.
Economic downturns sometimes do create opportunities for acquisitions.
We try to be opportunistic.
Because of our obsession with designing things
from the bottom up, some assets aren’t that appealing
But if something appropriate came up, we’d take a look
CEO, Avis Budget Group
What happens with the auto manufacturers is important to our industry, and it’s important to have a healthy
set of domestic auto manufacturers. Every year, we negotiate with 11 manufacturers, and that will go on. It’s
very detailed and hard fought on both sides. I don’t see
anything different going forward.
There’s a real acceptance on the part of the domestic manufacturers that they need to change, though I
will say they’ve improved greatly over the past 10 years.
We will probably stay with our domestic manufacturers
even if there are no immediate plans for a bailout.
I’ve been in this industry a long time, and in 38 years,
we’ve been in a lot of downturns. Any company needs
to look at every bit of their costs. We started this early
– we’ve been doing strategic cost reductions, and now
we’re looking at tactical cost reductions. Coping with
reduced travel, we have to slim down.
Think about i t this
way: If you cantake take
cleaning a car fr om six
steps to four, w hen you
spread that o ver
1,000 locations, i t
really gets to be
a number. We’ve
committed $150 million in saving to investors over
three years through these sorts of processes.
Beyond the economy, beyond travel, the biggest
change I’m seeing is the kind of cars people are interested in. In the past, if we had an SUV sitting around, people would accept it. Now, they’re very conscious about
the gas mileage and what kind of car it is. That will be
here long after we get through the downturn. And we’re
seeing it in both leisure and commercial. We’re seeing
the shift in behavior on the fuel efficiency and awareness of environmental impact.
And our pricing has to go up. I don’t think there’s any
doubt about that. I think this industry has been a very
good value, and will continue to be, but if you look at
our rates, we really haven’t even kept up with inflation.
We’ve done well through technology and efficiency.
In 2009, we’re going to have a new satellite TV product. Something that goes on the back of the headrest,
with an antenna on the roof, for families and groups,
anyone who’s going on a long drive.
As regards locations, even in good times we would
have slowed new-store expansions. I think we’ll slow it
a little more. But we will work on building business at