Online travel letters to shareholders should cut the fluff and stick to the facts

quick take

When asked a few years ago if Booking.com was disruptive, CEO Glenn Fogel said “no.” Online travel companies must demonstrate their innovation, not excessive boasting.

dennis schal

Travel online this week

If your company’s letter from shareholders announcing earnings needs to repeatedly advertise how innovative your business is or how the guest experience you offer is of “uncompromising quality,” are you really a little unsure about that?

As author Ernest Hemingway advised on the best writing: Show, don’t tell.

In earnings reports, let the numbers and their explanations speak for themselves. It’s best to lose all that excess fluff.

airbnb is one of the leading PR full earnings reporting practitioners in the online travel/short term rental industry, and Sonder tends to sink. Many companies in other industries also self-promote to the point of failure, and marketing-heavy missives and earnings announcements seem to be a trend.

In its Q1 shareholder letter, Airbnb cites its 1. “relentless innovation and adaptability,” 2. “our culture of relentless innovation,” 3. “our innovations inspire guests,” and 4. “our innovations, including our new Host. onboarding flow and our Ask a Superhost program.”

This occurs when hosts email me screenshots of what they say are “thousands” of hosts complaining on various forums, including the Airbnb community platform here, that their listings have become “stale” or that your reservations suddenly sold out or disappeared following the latest Airbnb categories. to update. Airbnb has 4 million hosts worldwide, so it’s hard to quantify how widespread the sentiment is, but it’s substantial.

You can attribute this to routine glitches that occur with product introductions, but hosts have long complained about problems with Airbnb’s back-end technology. In fact, Airbnb has stated in the past that improving the host experience is a priority, and the company has introduced numerous features over the past year.

Airbnb’s shareholder letter announcing first-quarter financials ($1.5 billion in revenue and a $19 million net loss) also includes a photo of host Jason Burrell, who is “proud to showcase the creativity of others artists in his Airbnb.” That’s lovely, but you don’t need to be on an earnings report on profit, loss, revenue, and performance forecasts.

Sonder’s first-quarter earnings announcement wasn’t as complicated as Airbnb’s, but it mentions how the company has “meticulously studied every downturn from the data,” and its fourth-quarter financial performance statement repeatedly references how the company is “revolutionizing” hospitality. .

Sonder may one day put pressure on a segment of the hotel industry, but for now its shares are trading at $1.84 a share and its market cap is $400 million which is no unicorn despite bullish growth forecasts for the rest of the year.

by Vacasa The first-quarter earnings announcement included self-serving tributes to the company from a vacation rental owner and another from a guest, but otherwise the shareholder letter was fairly fact-based and numbers-oriented.

Meanwhile, first-quarter earnings announcements from companies such as Alphabet (Google), stock reservation, Expedia GroupY tripadvisor he basically stuck to his financial performance with a limited amount of bragging, regardless of whether it was a shareholder letter or a traditional quarterly press release.

Reporters and investors want to get to the bottom when they study companies’ earnings announcements. Enough of the bullshit.

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