Booking Holdings’ lay-offs could ripple through OTA sector, warns expert

GlobalData’s Johanna Bonhill-Smith believes smaller OTAs could see a similar fate

COVID-19, Tripadvisor, Expedia,

Booking Holdings is to cut up to 25 percent of its employees, around 4,000 in total, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

While there are embryonic signs of an uptick in demand, this news from Booking Holdings shows the struggles travel operators will continue to experience as they wrestle with the deleterious impact of COVID-19.

The fact remains that 41 percent of global travellers expect to reduce international travel in 2020. Ever-changing rules regarding quarantine, cancellations and general travel between destinations worldwide continue to decimate consumer confidence, which is the largest barrier facing travel recovery.

Unfortunately, as the battle with COVID-19 continues to rage and the larger industry players continue to make significant cuts, this suggests that more lay-offs may occur as hardships are felt by all.

As the world’s largest online travel agent (OTA), Booking Holdings is undoubtedly one of the strongest players to battle through this pandemic but these substantial layoffs show that cost-cutting remains a vital component to weather this pandemic.

With an asset-light business model, OTA’s remain at a clear strategic advantage to in-store travel agencies but even they are not immune.

Other leading online operators including Expedia Group, TripAdvisor and Airbnb have already made significant cuts to their workforce in reaction to this pandemic and in a bid to cut costs.

Johanna Bonhill-Smith is part of GlobalData’s travel and tourism division, analysing and commenting on the evolving industry.

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