Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Priceline’s OpenTable buy is costly appetizer

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Priceline definitely didn’t pick the budget option in its own search for expansion. The online travel outfit is paying a 46 percent premium – $2.6 billion in cash – to snag OpenTable, the listed restaurant reservation site. Each helps small businesses and customers find each other. But the tariff only makes sense if Priceline can plug many more of both into OpenTable worldwide.

Priceline’s success and its $64 billion market valuation are rooted in the 2005 acquisition of, which now has a near lock on helping small hotels in Europe get online and gather reservations. A subsequent purchase of Asian firm Agoda followed a similar pattern. Rolling out into new countries – it’s now in more than 200 – has meant healthy growth and profit. Priceline’s revenue increased nearly 30 percent last year, and international business accounted for 94 percent of its operating income.

As for OpenTable, about a third of its revenue comes from software that puts restaurants online. Two-thirds comes from matching eateries with customers and taking a cut of the proceeds. Yet its hardware and software combination seems increasingly clunky. And OpenTable has been slow to expand internationally, considering the potential opportunity. Top line growth was only 18 percent last year, and outside North America revenue increased at an even slower rate, while accounting for only 13 percent of the total.

from Photographers' Blog:

Truth or Consequences – Spaceport

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
By Lucy Nicholson

Spaceport America's Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Building is seen near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Having just trundled past cattle and tumbleweed through the high desert red plains of southern New Mexico, Elizabeth Mixon stepped off a tour bus to face the future.

A tourist photographs Spaceport Operations Center at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

She breathed in the dry air at the edge of Spaceport America and imagined the adventure of the first tourists destined to launch from the nearly quarter-billion-dollar facility.

from Breakingviews:

Travel tech IPO charts familiar round trip

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Another big pre-crisis buyout is heading for an unexpectedly safe landing. Seven years after taking travel technology company Sabre private for $5 billion, owners TPG and Silver Lake Partners are making the round-trip return to public markets. It’s one of many boom-time deals whose badly timed takeoff led to a bumpy ride.

from India Insight:

Women still feel unsafe in India’s rape capital

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the Reuters India Insight team show.

The December incident, in which a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist died two weeks after she was gang-raped in a moving bus, raised questions over women’s safety in India and sparked debate over how men treat women all over the country.

from India Insight:

Women and New Delhi: the views of travellers

By Aditya Kalra and Anuja Jaiman

Assurances from the police and a new anti-rape law have done little to make the streets of New Delhi safer for women, especially for those using public transport, interviews conducted by the India Insight team show.

The India Insight team travelled in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses and Delhi Metro trains and spoke to commuters.

from India Insight:

Pricey dollar puts South Africa, Australia on Indian tourists’ maps

When Aparupa Ganguly visited South Africa in 2007, the country's topography and wildlife made such an impression on the communications professional that she couldn’t wait to come back. Ganguly got her wish six years later - thanks to a stable rand.

Foreign-bound Indian travellers such as Ganguly are realizing that holidaying in countries such as South Africa and Australia offers value for money as their currencies have been largely stable in recent weeks and haven't appreciated as much against the rupee, when compared to the dollar or the euro.

from India Insight:

Rupee spoils holidays abroad for Indians, but not for all

With the rupee hovering near a record low, Indian tourists would be tempted to give foreign shores a miss this year. But staying home is not an option for Harsh Chadha, a multinational executive just back from a three-week family vacation in the UK.

Chadha, 35, is part of India’s growing elite, whose trips abroad are not affected by the vagaries of the currency market.

from The Human Impact:

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday?


Before you pack the bags for this year's holidays, it's worth considering how you're going to get there - and how much of a problem that might create for the world's climate. Turns out there's some unconventional wisdom from scientists - and if you can stand a little company, a road trip might be greener than you think....

What’s the climate friendly way to go on holiday this year?

Turns out the answer is much the same whether you live in London, Los Angeles or Lagos – and it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your car at home.

from The Great Debate UK:

Most scenic airport touch-downs picked in web contest

St Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport boasts the world’s most visually appealing landing, according to respondents of a survey.

Private jet bookers asked travellers and an expert judging panel for their bucket list of global descents.

from Felix Salmon:

How roads could beat rail

The best conference panels, like the best blog posts, are the ones which change your mind. And while I haven't done a U-turn on anything, after yesterday's panel on smart cars I'm now thinking very differently about the relative merits of various ways of improving how we move around where we live and travel. While I've generally been a fan of just about any alternative to the automobile, now I'm not so sure: I think that smart car technology is improving impressively, to the point at which it could be the most promising solution, especially in developed parts of the world like California.

One reason is simply fiscal. Projects like the self-driving car, and the Sartre platooning project in Europe, move the costs of new technology onto companies (Google) and individuals (people buying smart cars). As such, while the total amount of money spent might well be enormous, the money doesn't need to be spent up-front by any state or national government. That stands in stark contrast, of course, to rail projects, which cost billions of dollars up front; if they ever do pay for themselves, they do so only very slowly.