To Mr. Barry Diller, President and Senior Executive, Expedia Group
To Mr. Glenn D. Fogel, CEO, Booking Holdings
The world ‘dear’ in Italian also means ‘expensive’, which is quite appropriate when referring to your companies, as for several we spent more than a student attending university on your services.
But of course, it’s only fair that we pay a generous deal of money. When the internet started to enter the lives of tourists, we were perched inside our ivory towers. You were the go-between us and tourists, as it was your job.
But you haven not created tourism as many believe, and it is quite clear when you analyze the less-attractive tourist areas, that you are succeeding in selling. It is evident that when demand ceases, you do not seem to be able to sell anything at all.
Perhaps you are a little distracted, but right now Italy is suffering an extremely difficult situation. If you don’t believe us, please refer to the Civil Protection Department website, for you to verify the situation and stay up to date.
Our people are dying and we’re currently faced with overcrowded hospitals (no overbooking involved here, do not worry), and we continue to receive cancellations and no new bookings.
Oblivious of what’s happening in one of your most important markets – do not even try the “we’re thinking about it” excuse – your algorithms don’t realize that you don’t sell simply because with many hotels closed you simply don’t have their rooms to offer and with tourists stuck at home you don’t have their room searches. The fading of these two details is enough to show that the juggling at the intersection between customers and hoteliers requires more refined thinking than what’s provided in your algorithms.
While you send uncivilized pressures into our mailboxes, with poorly written e-mails, to obtain who knows what conditions and which offers to impress “your” – so to speak – customers, we’re dying. As we try to create social relationships, and at the same time viable economic alternatives, we’re discussing with our customers (with you as the intermediate) the best way to survive. Meanwhile, unilaterally cancel contacts, agreements and solutions and get to do so because customers are unaware of your actual methods (free cancellations, booking.basic and other not so amusing tomfooleries to dump rates).
You keep on going, without looking back, or a glance to the side. Let’s be very clear, you are not selling Italy to tourists, you are selling a hotelier’s visibility. Hoteliers are your actual customers, those paying your invoices.
There are many Italians and Italian companies using your platforms to book our rooms, based in Italy. To sum it up, you do lot of business with Italians, it’s quite evident you get to sell Italy because there are Italian hotels and there is Italy. Of course, you also sell Italy to foreigners, but not because you are good and strategic, but because entrepreneurs have decided to invest in the destination thanks to Dante, Petrarca, Bernini, Caravaggio and other universally-acknowledged masters. By the way, let me recommend you a quite illuminating book by Vasari, ”Lives”, you can purchase it on this American platform.
To make a long story short, stop with your commercial pressure on a country that can hardly look at the future with serenity. Change your tone of voice and think about what you can actually do not to lose such a market. Suspend, reduce or postpone hotels’ commissions and find a more humane way of talking to hoteliers. Today, one of your area managers called me and he was much more human than the message automatically sent out with his automated signature. In such moments your automations are a weakness. Let us feel that you have a beating heart.
The whole Italian tourism chain is looking for strategies and solutions to react to this pressure. Employees and companies are trying to react; suppliers, the State and friends are all showing signs of flexibility, humanity and fraternity. Only you continue to automatically and unceasingly manage a market in agony with algorithms and idiotic offers. Resign yourself, intermediating nothingness is not possible, at least not without crossing into illegality or scam.
Relax and give a tangible sign to everyone. If you find holding out your hand to hoteliers difficult, be elegant for once and treat yourself with an experience that will make your heart beat (heart, the muscular organ beating under the ribcage. Don’t worry, you have one too, a little to the left … right there, good). Make a donation to the Italian Civil Protection Department, but let it be a strong one. Let’s say a 3/4% of the commissions you collect in Italy. Consider it a sort of VAT written off for about two decades.
Make a donation, but do it quickly and in your next message to Italian hoteliers and customers. Enclose a copy of the bank transfer receipt, because we had enough of your unacceptable offers and requests. We have really had enough!
Robi Veltroni, Founder of Officina Turistica
Officina Turistica is part of The Data Appeal Company Spa
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash