Sunday 11 December 2016

The Punt: Not buying the online hard sell

Published 26/11/2016 | 02:30

The Skyscanner website as the travel search website is being bought by Chinese giant Ctrip.com in a deal worth £1.4 billion. Photo: PA
The Skyscanner website as the travel search website is being bought by Chinese giant Ctrip.com in a deal worth £1.4 billion. Photo: PA

Entrepreneur Ray Nolan netted a reported €34m from this week's €1.7bn sale of travel website Skyscanner, so the Punt cast an eye over some of the other companies in his portfolio.

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Software firm XSellco caught our eye. One of its claims is to be able to help online retailers sell more, including getting their products into Amazon's all important "buy box", and just one click away from a sale. To do that better, XSellco looked at shopping habits generally, and found big cultural differences between countries even when it comes to obvious American imports like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Point one, Americans physically hit the malls yesterday, boosting in-store sales.

There's not much evidence for that this side of the pond. In the UK, Cyber Monday is a dampsquib, but only because shoppers do buy more over the preceding weekend. However, the frugal Germans will wait till the very last minute of Monday before hitting their smartphones to nab a cyber bargain.

Central Bank's  travel show

The Central Bank spent €1.4m on travel costs in the first half of this year, roughly in line with the same period in 2015, data published by the regulator shows. Flight tickets accounted for about half a million euro, while accommodation, at around €408,000, was the next big outlay.

Top brass Governor Philip Lane and Deputy Governor Cyril Roux incurred the biggest expense, as duties include them flying to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and frequent speaking engagements and meetings overseas. But the remarkable aspect about the travel costs is just how detailed they are.

The regulator has gone to the trouble of breaking out each of the big spenders by name, and catagorising their travel costs, including flights, accommodation and subsistence. Impressive transparency. Credit where credit's due.

Irish Independent

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