If you want to know how the U.S. economy will do this year, Glenn Fogel says just go to the airport and look around.
“We see people are traveling. We see the planes are filled. We see that the hotels are filled. We see people pretty happy about going out and getting travel,” he says.
As the CEO of Booking Holdings (BKNG), the world’s largest online travel company, Fogel has the stats on all that. The Norwalk, Connecticut based company makes reservations for millions of its customers at hotels, airlines, homes, apartments, rental cars, and restaurants in more than 220 countries. It owns Kayak, rentalcars.com, OpenTable, priceline.com, booking.com and agoda.com. All that business adds up to revenues of $12.7 billion and a ranking on the Fortune 500 list of the biggest companies in America.
What worries him? “Trade war talk doesn’t help anyone,” he says, referring to big U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods and tough trade talk between the two countries. Booking has a lot at stake in China where it has a more than a thousand employees working at a dozen companies owned by Booking. Booking also has significant investments in C-Trip, China’s largest online travel agency, and Didi, the country’s popular taxi-hailing service.
For now, Fogel is hopeful that the U.S. and China will reach a trade agreement. “I believe that in the long run it’s in the interest of everybody to help promote more travel, not less travel,” he says. “So I’m not so concerned about it yet.”
Watch the video above for more of my interview with Fogel.