Skift Daily Travel Briefing

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Today's essential travel news delivered in under 4 minutes

  • 3 minutes 2 seconds
    Western Airlines Increasingly Withdraw From China

    Episode Notes

    Virgin Atlantic is pulling out of China after serving the country for 25 years. Virgin becomes the latest Western carrier to retreat from China, writes Airlines Editor Gordon Smith.

    Virgin Atlantic cited “significant challenges and complexities” as the reason for its decision. The carrier’s final round-trip service to China will be London-Shanghai flights on October 25. Smith notes the closure of Russian airspace has made Virgin Atlantic’s journeys even longer and helped increase the company’s operating expenses. 

    Virgin Atlantic’s decision comes weeks after Qantas said it was pulling out of mainland China later this month.

    Next, business travel spending by U.S. companies may finally top pre-Covid levels by the end of this year, writes Reporter Christiana Sciaudone.

    A newly released report by Deloitte found that U.S. companies’ business travel spending is expected to grow between 8% and 12% this year. A Deloitte executive said that figure is projected to increase in 2025 as well due an increase in trips and higher airfares and hotel rates. 

    In addition, the Global Business Travel Association predicted earlier this year that most travel buyers expected their company’s business travel spending and volume to increase this year compared to 2023. 

    Finally, Apollo Global Management’s pending acquisition of The Travel Corporation could be a sign of more private equity deals to come in the tour operator and travel agency sectors, writes Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. 

    A source familiar with The Travel Corporation said multiple private equity firms had also expressed interest in the company.

    The source added that travel agencies geared toward luxury consumers are attractive targets coming out of the pandemic. The Travel Corporation is a family owned business and one factor driving the sale was that there was no heir apparent, the source said.

    For more travel stories and deep dives into the latest trends, head to skift.com. 

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    18 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 30 seconds
    Amsterdam Wants Fewer Visitors

    Episode Notes

    Amsterdam, one of the world’s most visited destinations, wants fewer tourists. The city’s Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki discussed Amsterdam’s strategy to decrease visitor numbers and attract better-behaved travelers with Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.  

    Mbarki said more rental units need to be reserved for residents instead of tourists, and that Amsterdam plans to introduce new short-term rental regulations. The city is also placing limits on cruise ships and development of new hotels. And Amsterdam is once again running a “Stay Away” campaign, which aims to deter tourists from partying in the city’s Red Light District.  

    Next, United Airlines flight attendants will vote on whether to authorize a strike as negotiations with management have stalled, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi. 

    Flight attendants have been demanding better pay and working conditions since the pandemic. The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents United flight attendants, said it’s the first vote to authorize a strike at United since 2005 bankruptcy negotiations. However, Maharishi notes a strike isn’t imminent due to current regulations. 

    United flight attendants have expressed frustration about, among other issues, not having received a pay raise since 2020.  

    Finally, private equity firm Apollo Global Management has acquired The Travel Corporation, a company that owns 18 travel brands, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Jesse Chase-Lubitz. 

    The agreement between Apollo and TTC is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2024. TTC, one of the world’s largest privately held travel companies, has been family-owned for more than a century. Apollo would acquire notable TTC tour brands such as Trafalgar, Contiki and Insight Vacations. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com

    Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

    17 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 36 seconds
    Last-Minute Travel Booking Sites Could See Surge in Bookings

    Episode Notes

    Last-minute travel booking sites have often done well during economic downturns. Executive Editor Dennis Schaal provides information about companies like last-minute vacation rental site Whimstay, which has announced discounted inventory deals with several major travel brands.  

    Whimstay recently unveiled a partnership with Expedia Group and Vrbo that will furnish the company with up to 250,000 new listings. Whimstay, which targets Millennial and Gen Z travelers, gets its inventory from property managers eager to offer rooms at discounted rates rather than see them unoccupied. 

    Schaal notes the partnership, to be implemented during the third quarter of this year, will enable travelers to access discounts on Whimstay, especially when they book within 30 days of the stay.    

    Next, tours and activity brand Viator has unveiled two new ads with the catchphrase “Regret Less. Do More” that highlight travel mishaps and how Viator could have helped avoid them, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Jesse Chase-Lubitz. 

    One ad features a family on an empty, rundown bus in London while the other shows two people hanging from a cliff after a mountain biking trip goes haywire. The campaign emphasizes Viator’s offerings, such as guided tours and an option for free cancellations. 

    Viator said it wants to avoid the temptation of producing typical ads with smiling people against beautiful backdrops. 

    Finally, international air travel from China is making progress in its recovery from the pandemic. But getting back to 2019 levels is taking longer than anticipated, writes Reporter Christiana Sciaudone.

    Sciaudone notes the number of flights between China and the U.S. will be a quarter of pre-Covid levels this year due to China’s weak economy and geopolitical tensions between the two countries. In addition, a study by the Asian Development Bank found that the aviation industry should prepare for a “possible permanent reduction in future growth” in air travel from China. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com

    Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

    16 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 2 minutes 49 seconds
    Delta Air Lines' Underwhelming Second Quarter

    Episode Notes

    Despite a record number of people traveling this summer, quarterly results from Delta — one of the most profitable U.S. airlines — fell short of expectations, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi.

    Delta reported record revenues for the second quarter but profits dropped 29% largely due to a surplus of seats and higher fuel costs. President Glen Hauenstein said domestic seat growth this summer has surpassed demand, affecting main cabin revenues. Hauenstein added that Delta expects to take a $100 million revenue hit this summer to the Paris Olympics. 

    Next, 12 companies in the travel industry raised at least $100 million during the first half of 2024, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes.

    Dawes notes a big jump from the same period last year, when only two travel startups raised that amount of money. Travel startups raised roughly $2.8 billion through the end of June, more than double the figure last year. Skift Research predicts that 2024 will see fewer deals than 2023, but their larger average size is expected to boost overall funding compared to last year’s record low. 

    Finally, the Banyan Group is on a growth spree. The Singapore-based luxury hotel operator is set to open a record number of properties this year, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill. 

    Banyan Group will have opened 10 hotels and resorts by December, and its flagship brand Banyan Tree is set to open five hotels this year — including its first in Japan. In addition, Bayan Group plans to expand into the Bahamas as well as launch a platform helping homeowners rent out their residences. 

    For more travel stories and deep dives into the latest trends, head to skift.com. 

    12 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 10 seconds
    Paris Not Expecting Large-Scale Tourism Boom for the Olympics

    Paris is expecting to see a small bump in overseas visitors for the upcoming Summer Olympics, but no large-scale boom, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

    Less than 15% of the projected roughly 11 million Olympic visitors will be foreign, according to the city’s tourism board. Paris tourism chief Corinne Menegaux had previously told us that most Olympic ticket holders will be French. Habtemariam notes many travelers are avoiding the popular tourist destination because of the Olympics.  

    Meanwhile, international flight bookings to Paris for the Olympic period — from July 26 to August 11 — have increased by 8% from the same timeframe last year. That figure is a substantial decrease from the last pre-Covid Summer Olympics. 

    Next, speaking of the French capital, Qantas will debut a roughly 17-hour nonstop flight from Perth to Paris on Friday, writes Airlines Editor Gordon Smith and Reporter Pranjal Pande. 

    The Perth-Paris flights will operate four times a week prior to the second week of August, after which flights between the two cities will operate three times a week. Qantas currently operates ultra-long-haul flights from Perth to both London and Rome. The company has said that roughly nine in every 10 seats on its Perth-London route have been occupied. 

    Finally, Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill provides more information about Marriott’s new online travel booking portal for small- to medium-sized businesses. 

    The new booking platform is part of Marriott’s strategy to increase direct bookings from corporate travelers. A Marriott executive said existing booking tools don’t satisfy the needs of business travelers. Small- and medium-sized businesses have become a larger part of the company’s guest mix coming out of the pandemic. O’Neill notes Marriott sees an opportunity to simplify the often complicated business travel process, with companies increasingly looking for more efficient solutions. 

    For more travel stories and deep dives into the latest trends, head to skift.com. 

    11 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 16 seconds
    The Growing Wealth Gap’s Impact on Travel

    Episode Notes

    Air travel is breaking records. But a recent Newsweek poll found that 44% of respondents won’t be traveling anywhere in the next three months, while 53% said they would’ve gone on vacation if the cost of living had been cheaper. Meanwhile, luxury hotel occupancy was up 1.8% in the first five months of 2024 while economy hotel occupancy was down 3.4%

    Next, Marriott has debuted an online travel booking portal for small-to medium-sized businesses. It’s part of the company’s strategy to attract more direct bookings for business travelers, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.  

    Marriott’s new platform will enable users to book hotels, flights and car rentals without having to rely on third-party services such as American Express Global Business Travel. The hotel giant’s business travel model provides customers discounted rates at Marriott properties worldwide as well as access to Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program benefits, among other features. 

    Finally, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada is scaling down funding programs that support the country’s 10 provincial First Nations tourism bodies, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

    Habtemariam reports the organization will receive $6.5 million from the federal government this year, a $4 million decrease from last year. CEO Keith Henry said he believes several First Nations tourism bodies won’t survive for much longer unless the organization secures funding from additional sources. 

    Habtemariam adds the organization’s staff of 40 will be cut in half by September. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com

    Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

    10 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 4 minutes 9 seconds
    Boeing Agrees to Guilty Plea

    Episode Notes

    Boeing will accept a guilty plea deal from the Department of Justice over charges the planemaker misled federal authorities on certain aspects of the 737 Max 8, which has been involved in fatal crashes. Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi lists three takeaways from Boeing’s deal with the Justice Department. 

    Boeing will have to pay a more than $240 million criminal offense fine and invest at least $455 million in compliance and safety programs. The planemaker will be on probation for three years, during which it would need to install an independent monitor to oversee its compliance and safety.

    In addition, Boeing wouldn’t have any protection from any ongoing or future federal investigations. 

    Next, Airbnb has unveiled a new ad urging travelers heading to Paris for the Olympics to avoid hotels to discover the true essence of the French capital, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

    Airbnb’s ad features a family of four dealing with common tourist come-ons outside of a hotel before the hotel collapses. The hotel gives way to an Airbnb, and afterwards, the family views an artist painting on a canvas and a couple dining, among other sights. The narrator then urges travelers to stay where the locals live instead of the touristy part of the city.

    Finally, the effectiveness of carbon offsets has been a contentious issue in the travel industry. Research Analyst Robin Gilbert-Jones explores the reasons carbon offsets are controversialand how they can be effectively evaluated. 

    Travel brands are increasingly turning to carbon offsets — considered a way for companies to compensate for their own emissions by reducing them elsewhere — to help reduce the industry’s massive carbon footprint. However, Gilbert-Jones notes the carbon offset market has been described as the “wild west.” And one carbon credit may look like another but be much less effective at reducing CO2, which leads companies to seek out the cheapest credits available. 

    Gilbert-Jones listed five recognized ways to measure the quality of a carbon offset, including verifiability. Verifiability means a legitimate third party can verify claims of carbon avoidance in offset projects. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com

    Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

    9 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 50 seconds
    Corporate Travel Rebounds Despite Cuts in Travel Budgets

    Presented by Brand USA

    Episode Notes

    A growing number of companies have reduced their travel budgets in recent years, but that hasn’t slowed down business travel’s rebound, writes Reporter Christiana Sciaudone. 

    Roughly 60% of travel buyers said their companies have cut their travel budgets in the past few years, according to a recent BCD Travel survey. In addition, 96% said their companies have introduced cost control policies. 

    However, Sciaudone notes 2024 is shaping up to be a strong year for business travel. The global business travel market is expected to hit pre-Covid levels this year, according to British data analytics firm GlobalData. Roughly 220 million outbound business trips are projected to take place in 2024, up from 174 million last year. 

    Next, American Airlines announced it’s reached a conditional purchase agreement with startup ZeroAvia for 100 hydrogen-electric engines, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi. 

    American CEO Robert Isom said the hydrogen-electric engines would help the company be more sustainable. ZeroAvia develops engines for commercial aircraft that can emit close to zero emissions. American joins rivals in making investments in ZeroAvia’s hydrogen-electric engines in recent years. 

    However, a major issue with engines is that they can only power smaller aircraft. Maharishi notes most of the investment has been limited to regional jets since technology isn’t yet ready for hydrogen-electric engines to power larger planes. 

    Finally, sports network ESPN has entered the experiences sector by launching a tour of Major League Baseball venues, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Jesse Chase-Lubitz. 

    ESPN’s first tour — which runs over Labor Day weekend — will include stops at three stadiums and exclusive access to the network’s headquarters. Chase-Lubitz notes ESPN will make a determination about running more tours based on the success of its initial offering. An ESPN spokesperson at the Disney-owned network said it had seen growing demand for experiences tours. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com

    Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos

    3 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 9 seconds
    Oneworld's New CEO Explains Travel Trends

    Episode Notes

    Nat Pieper has the task of helping lead 13 airlines as the CEO of the oneworld alliance, one of the world’s three major airline groups. Pieper discussed the challenges he faces and industry trends in an interview with Airlines Editor Gordon Smith.

    Oneworld has opened airport lounges in Seoul and Amsterdam this year, but Pieper acknowledged he doesn’t have a magic number in mind for how many lounges he’d like to open. He did note that the revenue outlook this summer for oneworld looks healthy despite post-pandemic revenge travel having run its course. And he sees the premium travel experience as a trend that’s here to stay. 

    Next, visitors to Japan no longer have free access to Mount Fuji’s popular Yoshida Trail, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

    Local authorities have implemented both a mandatory $12 fee to climb Mount Fuji on the trail and a daily cap of 4,000 hikers. Officials have also set up a new reservation system and entry gate to enforce the cap. A Japanese tourism executive said the measures are necessary to help protect Mount Fuji from congestion and overcrowding, with Habtemariam noting that revenue from the fee would go toward maintenance and safety measures, among other services. 

    Finally, Indian consumers are spending an astronomical amount of money on weddings, writes Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

    Weddings are the second-largest consumption category in India, trailing only food and groceries, according to brokerage firm Jefferies. In addition, the average Indian spends twice as much on a marriage ceremony than 18 years of education. Bhutia notes an Indian household spends on average three times its annual income on weddings. 

    India is the world’s largest wedding destination, hosting between 8 and 10 million wedding ceremonies annually. The country’s wedding industry is worth approximately $120 billion. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com.

    2 July 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 6 seconds
    Boeing Screws Up

    Presented by Brand USA

    Episode Notes

    The National Transportation Safety Board has blasted Boeing, arguing the planemaker shared sensitive information with the media, writes Airlines Editor Gordon Smith. 

    The NTSB said that Boeing had violated the agency’s investigative rules by disclosing information to the press about the January blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight. The agency also said Boeing improperly speculated about possible causes of the blowout. 

    As a result, Boeing will no longer have access to the investigative information that the federal agency produces as it continues its probe into the January 5 accident. In a statement, Boeing acknowledged that it overstepped and apologized. 

    Next, short-term rental price comparison business HomeToGo plans to show total cost, including fees and taxes, to comply with California’s new junk fee law that starts on July 1, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. 

    HomeToGo CEO Patrick Andrae said his company is going further than Airbnb, which plans to display the nightly rates and fees upfront — but not taxes — in California. HomeToGo will display total cost throughout all of the U.S. Andrae added that showing all fees and taxes will be HomeToGo’s practice regardless of whether it’s processing a booking on its own channels or directing a guest to a third-party site to book.

    Finally, there were 539 direct passenger flights in December 2019 between India and China. However, there are currently zero. Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia examines the issue.

    China has been pushing to resume direct air links between the two countries, which was suspended during the pandemic. But India remains cautious due to strained diplomatic relations. 

    Bhutia notes people looking to travel between India and China have to rely on pricey and time-consuming connecting flights through third countries, such as Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore.

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com. 

    28 June 2024, 6:00 am
  • 3 minutes 6 seconds
    Xbox Can Teach the Travel Industry a Few Things

    Presented by Brand USA

    Episode Notes

    A Microsoft executive believes Xbox can teach the travel industry several things about the customer experience, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes. 

    Shane O’Flaherty, a Microsoft executive who spoke this week at hospitality tech event HITEC, said Xbox has found ways to drive digital engagement with consumers. O’Flaherty explained that Xbox tracks every player’s movement and constantly presents them content that will improve their experiences. 

    So how might that approach work in travel? O’Flaherty provided an example of a hotel that knows some guests love whiskey might create an impromptu tasting event and send a note about the event to those guests. 

    Next, activist investor Elliott Investment Management has blasted Southwest Airlines for its weaker second-quarter financial outlook, writes Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi. 

    Elliott, which took a nearly $2 billion stake in Southwest earlier this month, argued the carrier is led by a team unable to adapt to the modern airline industry. Elliott added that Southwest more or less admitted it was struggling to adjust to a new environment. The hedge fund has also been calling for major leadership changes at Southwest, including the resignations of CEO Bob Jordan and chair Gary Kelly. 

    Meanwhile, Maharishi notes Southwest expects to record operating revenues for the second quarter. 

    Finally, real estate investor Blackstone has acquired Village Hotels from private equity firm KSL Capital Partners. The deal is part of Blackstone’s strategy to expand its footprint in the United Kingdom, writes Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.

    The companies haven’t revealed the price or deal terms, but O’Neill notes the transaction is valued at around $1 billion. The deal adds 33 properties to Blackstone’s portfolio in the UK. Meanwhile, Village Hotels CEO Gary Davis said the deal would also enable his brand to expand. 

    Get more travel news at https://skift.com.

    Presenter/Producer: Jane Alexander

    27 June 2024, 6:00 am
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