New York – The U.S. recession will be a strong headwind for the travel industry for the foreseeable future, with business travel especially feeling the pinch, the chief executive of online travel agency Priceline.com said on Monday.
“There’s been a more rapid downturn in business travel than leisure travel,” CEO Jeffery Boyd said at the Reuters Travel and Leisure Summit in New York.
He linked the decline in business travel, in part, to efforts by executives to avoid criticism that they are wasting company money on unnecessary travel. He said complaints by politicians about expensive corporate travel is putting additional and unfair pressure on the struggling industry.
Boyd said that while no one is pleased with the current state of the economy, the downturn gives travel agencies a chance to court bargain-hungry travelers with cheap bookings and creative travel package deals.
The three publicly traded U.S. online travel agencies — Priceline, Expedia Inc and Orbitz Worldwide Inc — posted mixed results for the fourth quarter. The total value of bookings were broadly lower, with only Priceline seeing growth.
Shares in Priceline, the second largest online travel agency by revenue, were down 2.1 percent at $83.06 on Nasdaq.