Omri Morgenshtern, CEO of international tourism giant Agoda, addressed allegations about the company’s unfair use of power, expensive holidays to Israel and industry efficiency. Morgenshtern was speaking at the National Economic Conference sponsored by Calcalist and Bank Leumi.
We are experiencing global inflation and vacations have become very expensive, especially in Israel. Is it possible to lower the prices of the holidays?
“As a business, we don’t benefit from price increases. They stem from a bunch of reasons. We have a long-term relationship with customers, so if holiday prices are too expensive – I don’t win no long-term customers. We try to match prices.”
In Israel, it seems better to fly abroad than to be in Israel.
“The market is self-sustaining. It’s an anomaly. The market will balance it out. We’re doing everything we can to get more people on vacation – even if it means not making money or even if we make no profit.”
It’s no secret that the company is owned by Booking and Expedia and is therefore a duopoly. Some hotels claim that you are using your power unfairly.
“Agoda is not owned by Booking. It is owned by a holding company that also owns Booking. In some markets we are big. But, contrary to the misconception that we don’t want to work with a regulator, we really like In fact, we are going to see a regulator, for example in Europe, and we are asking for regulation.”
The complaint comes from hotels claiming you are suffocating them with prices.
“We don’t set hotel prices. They do.”
Your main market is in Asia. Is this a good time for the Asian market?
“Some people think the Asian market is the same, but that’s not true, every country has a different strategy. The direction is positive, but there are important countries like Japan and Korea that haven’t opened up. “When they open, there will be a boost in tourism. We’re almost there, but we’re not fully out of the pandemic period yet.”
The tech industry is in crisis, do you feel it?
“As a tourism company, we felt the crisis two years ago and we prepared for it. We feel the wind at our back in terms of coming out of the pandemic period more significantly than the winds of the crisis.”
You have an edge over the rest of the tech industry because you’ve already become more efficient and laid off hundreds of workers. How do you approach such an approach and how does it affect the conduct of the company?
“When the outgoing CEO of Agoda was asked what was the most difficult moment, he replied that it was the decision to lay off employees. The best advice I can give to companies is to be sensitive and empathetic and to compensate properly. dismissed find jobs elsewhere. When we felt the crisis was over, we hired many of them. You must give more than the law requires.
Your background is technological. What background do you need to come from to run a business that you have defined as tourism?
“Agoda is more of a technology company than a tourism company. Our vision is that all problems can be solved through technology. It is important to be attentive, to work hard, and this is something vital, whatever whatever your background. Also, you have to be flexible, learn fast and adapt to the environment. I come from a technological background, but what I do on a daily basis has nothing to do with technology.”
In conclusion, do you have any holiday tips or strong trends in global tourism?
“Any country that opens its doors to tourists in a post-pandemic period, get there early – it’s your chance to take advantage of it before the masses of tourists flock there. Fly to Asia. Personally , I live in Thailand so I recommend to everyone who is not there yet to travel. You can get all kinds of vacations from the tallest skyscrapers to beautiful beaches.”