This weekend, are you planning your next vacation? If you’ve increased your pursuit of leisure trips, no matter how big or small, you’re not alone.
Making post-pandemic travel plans, or what became coined as “revenge travel,” was a high priority for many people as we waited for restrictions to be lifted. But it wasn’t just a phase. Leisure travel is exceeding pre-pandemic levels regardless of sticky inflation, says Matthias Tillmann, CFO of Trivago, a global travel metasearch site for accommodation deals.
Nearly half (46%) of consumers globally say travel is more important to them now compared to pre-pandemic, according to Expedia Group’s recent Traveler Insights Report.
“It’s more anecdotal evidence, but what I’m hearing is that travelers are putting more importance on having experiences and are cutting back in other areas [to be able to travel more],” Tillmann tells me.
Trivago (Nasdaq: TRVG), a subsidiary of Expedia, continues to see that hotel prices are up year over year as its KPI of the average booking value is increasing, yet “demand is still robust,” Tillmann says.
How consumers are dealing with high prices depends on the season. This past summer, travelers tried to mitigate high costs by reducing the length of trips, he said. For example, instead of a 10-day holiday, making it nine days to save 10%, Tillmann says. Choosing cheaper hotels and less expensive destinations in Europe like Croatia instead of Spain or France, also came into play, Tillmann says. Going into the winter season, Trivago saw more weekend trips, or trips averaging two to three nights, he says.
Trivago’s customers have always been spontaneous and flexible travelers, Tillmann says. Typically, before the pandemic, customers booked two to four months in advance, but now it’s one to three months in advance in hopes of getting a better deal, he says. For example, if your only vacation criteria is a sunny place with a beach, you might wait and see if you can get a good deal for a destination that isn’t popular but still nice, Tillmann says.
Last year, Trivago’s revenue increased by 48% year over year to about $566 million (EUR 535 million), according to its latest earnings report. However, the full-year 2022 revenue was just about 70% of 2019 levels, Tillmann says. “We spend our money much more efficiently,” he explains. “And by doing so we have fewer people coming to the website because we don’t buy certain visits that were unprofitable before.” But Trivago’s adjusted EBITDA was 50% above 2019 levels, he says.
Our conversation turned to the topic of tech. “We are currently migrating to a new ERP [enterprise resource planning] system and that is an upgrade for us,” Tillmann says. “We are working on having more solid and efficient end-to-end processes and automation.” When it comes to the use of A.I., “an area we’ve started looking into is fraud detection and anomalies in financial transactions,” he says. Are generative A.I. applications like ChatGPT in Trivago’s future? A possibility is a chatbot where people can ask questions and get them answered, Tillmann says. But no plans are in the works just yet.
I asked him if he’s made his summer travel plans yet. “I recently canceled our summer vacation and instead booked the Easter holiday because we learned that we are expecting a fourth child in the summer,” Tillmann says. “We will spend some time in Europe trying to catch some early sun.” But his family might also take a spontaneous trip in the summer, depending on when the baby arrives, he says.
The internal audit profession faces stiff competition for talent, according to Protiviti’s 2023 Next-Generation Internal Audit Survey. The survey found that 43% of chief audit executives (CAEs) and senior internal audit leaders report a lack of access to the talent they need. The executives are prioritizing recruiting and retaining qualified talent, according to the report. Regarding top transformation priorities for their internal audit organizations, respondents named aligning with other assurance functions (51%), aligning strategy with the overall organization (49%), and increasing the use of data analytics solutions (46%). The findings are based on a survey of 573 executives.
Here are a few Fortune weekend reads:
“‘Sheer panic’ has gripped Silicon Valley VCs and founders amid worries that the startup industry’s most important bank is in trouble” by Anne Sraders, Jessica Mathews, and Kylie Robinson
“This banking CEO is going against the grain on return-to-office mandates—and thinks work intensity should be lower on in-person days” by Chloe Taylor
“The unsung heroes of the American economy: Grandmothers” by Megan Leonhardt
“12 family-friendly resorts everyone will enjoy from age 2 to 82” by L’Oreal Thompson Payton
Here’s a list of some notable moves this week:
Cynthia Gaylor, CFO at DocuSign (Nasdaq: DOCU), is stepping down from her position in the coming months. Gaylor will remain in her role for a transition period, including through the announcement and filing of the company’s Q1 FY2024 results. DocuSign has initiated a search led by chief executive officer Allan Thygesen to identify the company’s next CFO. Gaylor was appointed CFO in September 2020 and before that, served as a member of DocuSign’s Board, including as chair of the audit committee. Gaylor’s planned departure is not a result of any disagreement regarding the company’s financial statements or disclosures, according to DocuSign.
Blake Jorgensen, EVP and CFO at PayPal Holdings, Inc., will step down from his role, effective immediately, the company disclosed in a March 7 Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Jorgensen will remain at PayPal as a senior advisor through Sept. 15. “Jorgensen’s decision does not reflect any dispute or disagreement with the company,” according to the filing. Gabrielle Rabinovitch will continue to serve as acting CFO and SVP of investor relations and treasurer.
Dan Jedda was named CFO at Roku, Inc. (Nasdaq: ROKU), effective May 1. Jedda will succeed current CFO Steve Louden, who announced he was leaving Roku last year. Since 2020, Jedda has been the CFO at Stitch Fix. Before Stitch Fix, Jedda worked at Amazon for 15 years, predominantly as VP and CFO for digital video (including Amazon Studios), Digital Music, and advertising and corporate development organizations. Before Amazon, Jedda served as a controller for Toshiba America.
Annie Mitchell was named CFO at Allbirds, Inc. (Nasdaq: BIRD), an apparel and fashion company that specializes in manufacturing eco-friendly wool shoes, effective April 24. Mitchell will succeed Mike Bufano, who will be stepping down from Allbirds and will remain with the company through mid-May. Mitchell joins Allbirds from Gymshark, where she is VP of finance and insights. Before that, she spent 10 years at Adidas where she held various positions within the finance organization. Before Adidas, Mitchell spent a decade in finance and planning functions of other consumer and retail businesses.
Warren Jenson was named CFO at Nielsen, an information, data, and market measurement firm, effective April 15. Jenson replaces Linda Zukauckas, who left the company last month. Jenson brings over 34 years of experience. Jenson has served as CFO for several Fortune 500 companies including Amazon, Delta Airlines, NBC, and Electronic Arts, and most recently served as president, CFO, and executive managing director of international for LiveRamp.
Tiffany R. Smith was promoted to CFO at Lulu’s Fashion Lounge Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: LVLU), effective immediately. Smith succeeds Crystal Landsem, who assumed the CEO role, as previously announced. Smith has served as Lulus’ VP of finance since April 2021. Before joining Lulus, she held senior finance and controller roles for retailers including Fashion Nova, Hot Topic, and Nordstrom. Smith also worked at Deloitte & Touche LLP in audit and enterprise risk.
“The failure of [Silicon Valley Bank] could destroy a long-term driver of the economy as VC-backed companies rely on SVB for loans and holding their operating cash.”
—Bill Ackman, the founder of Pershing Square Capital Management, tweeted on Thursday evening. “Silicon’s Valley’s clubby world of venture capital investors and entrepreneurs plunged into panic on Thursday amid fast-spreading reports of financial trouble at one of the startup industry’s most important banks,” Fortune reported.
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