Executive directors of Expedia Group, Airbnb, Booking Holdings

Three CEOs of online travel brands spoke to financial analysts this week about their quarterly earnings for the 2022 quarter.

PhocusWire got involved and also reviewed the press releases published before the talks.

Every Friday, PhocusWire dissects and discusses an industry trend or new development covered by PhocusWire that same week.

Glenn Vogel, CEO and President of Booking Holdings, one of the world’s largest and most influential travel brands, said during the company’s interview with analysts about its first quarter 2022 earnings this week:

“Finally, as I visualized in our last call for profits, we published our Sustainability Report 2021 and our Climate Action Plan in March. In our Climate Action Plan, we highlighted the significant emission reductions we have already achieved, thanks in part to the supply of 100% renewable energy to our office by the end of last year. And we are committed to halving our emissions by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2040.

“We are proud of the reduction in emissions and the ambitious goal set for our business. But as I said before, we believe that our biggest impact on sustainable travel is by making it easier for passengers to find and book sustainable options. We are turning to this opportunity to our work with our journey yet [Indiscernible] a program that already includes more than 100,000 properties that can highlight their sustainable practices to Booking.com customers. “

The comments come at the end of Vogel’s introductory remarks to the usual group of analysts who are tuning in to similar events, following the traditional review of key performance indicators and other elements of the quarterly financial statements.

Activists who are pushing the industry to be more proactive on the sustainability agenda and the impact of the sector on climate change – as well as anyone who has concerns about these critical issues – will be pleased that the topic is gaining some time in ether.

They will hope that Booking Holdings and analysts have further touched on the strategies in place to address the biggest problem the industry is likely to face in the near future.

And they will hope that similar comments on sustainability were made by Expedia Group and Airbnb in their talks with financial analysts earlier this week.

However, these hopes will be in vain.

Examining the number of references to the environmentally sound “sustainable” (non-financial) in the income statements and transcripts of subsequent calls will be a disappointing exercise, as we found the following (number of references in brackets):

Reservations Holdings

  • Income statement – “sustainable” (0)
  • Executives’ comments during the investor call – “sustainable” (4)
  • Questions from analysts – “sustainable” (0)

Expedia Group

  • Income statement – “sustainable” (0)
  • Executives’ comments during the investor call – “sustainable” (0)
  • Questions from analysts – “sustainable” (0)


  • Income statement – “sustainable” (0)
  • Executives’ comments during the investor call – “sustainable” (0)
  • Questions from analysts – “sustainable” (0)

Some may find such a revelation quite disappointing, while others may say it is almost negligent not to present sustainability at the heart of the company’s strategy.

Others may argue that this illustrates how far down the line of sustainability priorities these three and other companies are – or, worse, how the public sustainability statements made by many travel brands are simply ticking in the correct boxes on the corporate social responsibility strategy.

Given the seriousness of the climate change situation and the commitments of these leading, powerful companies to tackle it, it is reasonable to ask why sustainability is not more important – or at all – at a time when they are being addressed. .

We can benefit from doubt, of course, given that these are usually discussions and messages based on finances. But Airbnb, for example, talked at length during the conversation about how its employees can now work from home or how in the statement we can “meet Jason” and learn about his life as a host over the past three years.

Expedia Group, just a few weeks ago, is extremely proud to announce that it has joined the coalition of Travalyst tourism brands (“coordinating our travel mission as a force for good”), working together to develop strategies on the sustainability agenda. . But such an important move does not require any mention in its latest financial update.

The company gathered the good and the good of the industry this week in Las Vegas and had two sessions on the published sustainability program to attend its partners.

This is encouraging – Expedia Group is trying to engage its hotel customers and others on the agenda. But he and others need to do more to make it more than a passing mention (if any) in the quarterly updates.

In addition to earnings reports, many companies will no doubt defend themselves against the lack of sustainability coverage in analyst calls – probably by claiming that they only meet what is requested.

And this is probably the essence of the problem. If financial analysts fail to bring sustainability to an important topic of discussion, probably because such issues do not guide their money-driven thinking, then this will not provoke the debate it deserves.

At some point in the future, climate change will influence the decisions that financial institutions make about where to invest, and this will become a major topic of discussion. People react and wake up when it comes to money.

But it will probably be too late to make a difference when change is still achievable right now.

Much needs to change in the minds of industry leaders and the banking community, along with consumer decisions. Simply providing information that influences consumers’ choices is no longer enough.

We expect this to happen in a meaningful way and for sustainability to become more than a footnote in the strategies of companies that can – and should – play a huge role.

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PhocusWire’s editorials look at a trend or development highlighted in an article this week.


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