hat's next on the shopping list of Barry
Diller's InterActiveCorp (IAC) in its quest to
"own" the online travel sector? Some Barry-watchers say it's the
meetings market, which would take IAC into what
currently is the most (or the only?) robust area of business
There is a crop of companies with online registration tools,
online housing tools, online site-negotiation tools and a few
companies that combine them all; the considerable consolidation
among them of late indicates one or two might be ripe for the
As for Diller's possibly waning interest in interactive travel
television, he actually had to be reminded that IAC owns the
U.K.-based TV Travel Shop as he enumerated the
units under Expedia's wing during a Goldman Sachs presentation the
other day. Meanwhile, he revealed that IAC has earmarked a
"decent-size" research and development fund to explore "things not
being done by our business units."
• • •
The Travel Industry Association plans to do for
the National Park Service what it did for
America's scenic byways. Betsy O'Rourke, the TIA's
senior vice president of marketing, says the project will "mirror"
the See America campaign on its Web site.
O'Rourke, who was at the Hospitality Sales & Marketing
Association International/New York University Marketing Strategy
Conference, is hoping hoteliers who are reasonably close to parks,
particularly the lesser-known ones, will get creative and design
itineraries that can be included in the campaign.
• • •
"Devastating" is how O'Rourke describes the potential impact of
the Department of Homeland Security's plan to
fingerprint and photograph every foreign visitor on every visit to
the U.S. beginning next year. If you've ever spent time at a busy
airport's international arrivals terminal at around 4 p.m., you
have some idea of what she's talking about.
"We don't want to treat our visitors like criminals," she says.
While we're at it, let's consider the reaction if some other
country -- say, France -- decided to fingerprint every arriving
U.S. citizen. Oh, yeah, that would go over well.
• • •
Travel research guru Peter Yesawich of Yesawich Pepperdine Brown
& Russell said he has "never seen a change of this magnitude in
12 months." The change in question: 58% of consumers believe they
will find the best-branded travel alternative on the Internet, up
from 38% a year ago. The bad news for travel agents -- 20% of
consumers believe agents are the best source, down from 29%.
• • •
Politics, once limited to veiled references at industry events,
seems to be coming out of the closet: Yesawich noted that the
current state of the travel industry is due, in part, to U.S.
military ventures, "none of which came to a reasonable conclusion,"
and President Bush, who "has managed to raise the anxiety level" of
Lalia Rach, associate dean of New York
University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports
Management, noted that for the first time in her many years of
international travel, she was hearing that "people don't want to
visit the U.S. because of U.S. policies."
• • •
Sam Galeotos' departure from Cendant
Corp.'s Travel Distribution Services division may have
seemed abrupt to outsiders, but people who work there say it was a
planned departure, coinciding with the division's first
anniversary. And Galeotos, who came to Cendant when it acquired
Hawaii-based Cheap Tickets, is said to prefer the
Aloha State to Parsippany, N.J. Imagine that.
• • •
Sometimes, it absolutely pays to leave a company. Former
Worldspan CEO Paul Blackney's
consulting agreement pays $150,000 annually plus "annual living
expenses" of $60,000. He also is entitled to pleasure-travel
privileges on Delta and Northwest as well as other "miscellaneous"
benefits. That's on top of his various severance bonuses and other