Ten years is a long time in travel. I realised this when recently forced to review the past decade for TRAVELtech’s 10th Anniversary. So much has happened: Boom, Bust, Globalisation, Disease, Celebritisation, Terrorism, Disintermediation, China, India, Greed, Lust, Uber-Consumption, Despair… You know, the usual. Anyway, I’ve ended up with a list of the highs and lows of world history for travel industry tragics for each and every year from 1999 – 2000. Check it out and add your own.
- Optimism abounds; the Internet is in full swing, it’s the answer to everything
- The Australian Financial Review reports: “For traditional travel agents, 1999 marks the crossroads to their future: the point at which they either commit to the new technology or stand in the departure lounge waving goodbye to their former clientele.”
- Expedia raises $US72m in an IPO.
- Travel and the Internet is declared a perfect match.
- Webjet celebrates its first birthday.
- TRAVELtech is launched.
- Pioneering Low Cost Carrier Ryanair launches its first website with no great expectations. Within 12 months 75% of all the airline’s bookings are coming direct. Now it’s close to 100%.
- Dot com becomes dot bomb as the tech bubble bursts. The NASDAQ index peaks in March before shedding 40% of its value over the next six months and companies with an ‘e’ prefix go broke left right and centre.
- Air New Zealand, which already owns 50% of Ansett, buys other half from partner News Ltd for $580m.
- Ansett’s CEO is sacked and middle management decimated.
- Sydney Olympics still wild with optimism – the high tide market for Australian tourism.
- Virgin Blue launches on 31 August with two aircraft. The carrier now has a fleet of 78 mainly Boeing aircraft flying to more than 30 domestic and international destinations.
- Wotif founded by Graeme Wood in Brisbane
- Terrorists fly into World Trade Centre
- Travel takes a massive hit, Ansett collapses
- Enron files for bankruptcy in December
- Travel industry begins to recover from shocks of previous year
- In November, Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome (SARS) was first identified in Guandong Province, China
- SARS spreads like wildfire, with more than 8000 cases identified in 37 countries, killing almost 10% of those infected.
- United States invades Iraq assisted by “Coalition of the Willing” in March.
- Double whammy hits travel hard.
- Oil sells for $28.60 a barrel
- Travel industry begins to recover from recent turmoil.
- Security and economic concerns impacting travel decisions.
- Major new outbound markets developing in China, India, Russia, Middle East.
- US Monetary policy remains loose. Interest rates in the world’s biggest economy continue coming down.
- Business people lose perspective, once again.
- Massive salaries, bigger egos.
- Travel hits a sweet spot.
- Internet sales through the likes of Virgin Blue and Jetstar exceed 90%.
- S8, a little-known Queensland company, hits the headlines, not for the last time, when it buys Harvey World Travel.
- It’s all good ‘cause we’re all making money
- Roamfree founded by Gold Coast businessman Tony Smith, who says the company aims to become the Google of Travel, and begins an acquisition binge.
- S8 buys Transonic Travel, Travelscene American Express and Gullivers Travel Group.
- The debt binge continues, it’s the 1980s all over again.
- Signs of a long crisis emerge in February when HSBC, then the world’s biggest bank, writes down the value of US$10bn in sub-prime mortgages.
- But a Queensland financial services group called MFS remains oblivious and pays an awful lot of money to buy S8.
- Financial markets and confidence unravel throughout the year.
- The cost of a barrel of oil breaches $100 on April Fool’s Day.
- Two months later oil price peaks at $147.29.
- MFS rebrands as Octavier and promptly collapses.
- All hell breaks loose when Lehman Brothers goes to the wall in September.
- The Dow Jones falls 18% in the week beginning October 6.
- On 4 November Barack Obama is elected President of the United States.
- By March, it seems the world as we know is about to end.
- Yet just three months later optimism returns.
- Wotif posts a $43m profit.
- Oil is $68 a barrel.
- Stock market surges.
- People are talking recovery.