What to Know Now

Growth rates among the legacy hotel brands are stratospheric right now, with new properties and brands popping up across the planet like children with measles. In a way, it’s the only way to compete. Developing countries and millenials are coming of age and new markets demand new properties. Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood have to fill in those gaps.

Apparently Starwood couldn’t fill them fast enough. On Tuesday, their CEO Frits van Paasschen announced that he’d be stepping down as the leader of the hotel empire, a departure linked to “slow room growth” and subsequent pressure from the Starwood board.

Nothing will immediately change for business travelers, of course, but one wonders about the fate of Starwood Preferred Guest, the hotel’s loyalty program. Often considered one of the best in the industry (with a nice credit card partnership to boot), there’s no doubt that many travelers are hoping that the program maintains or even builds upon its benefits. With a new CEO though, anything could happen.

Social Quote of the Day

“Resigned”

@juliana6 | Juliana Shallcross, Managing Editor of Jaunted, HotelChatter and VegasChatter

 

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Airlines

Virgin America Adds Pillows Instead of Lie-Flat Seats in First Class Arms Race: Virgin America Inc. will add more comfortable pillows and duvets to first-class service on cross-country flights to help hang onto passengers who might be lured away by rivals with low prices and lie-flat seats. Read more at Skift

SAS’s Newly Designed Long-Haul Cabins Depart Copenhagen for New York: SAS’s first aircraft to fly the airline’s new long-haul cabins, dubbed “Erik Viking,” took off today headed to make it’s big premiere in New York. Read more at Skift

Is There a Bigger Fallout From the Disappearing Delta Award Chart? Earlier in February, the frequent flyer community came out once more to protest against Delta Air Lines, but not for another devaluation of SkyMiles. Instead, many frugal travelers rallied against the disappearance of the Delta SkyMiles award chart. Read more at Frugal Travel Guy

JetBlue’s New CEO Wants to Make Customers and Wall Street Happy: Robin Hayes, the new CEO of JetBlue Airways, is balancing between passengers and Wall Street. Read more at Skift

TSA PreCheck Expansion

Airports

Business Travel Group Warns of Financial Hit if TSA Funding Cut: Travelers shouldn’t panic about airport security getting chaotic if a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill isn’t approved by later this month. Read more at Skift

False-gunman warning panics Los Angeles airport passengers: About 20 passengers, some of them screaming and trampling others, fled through emergency doors and onto the tarmac at a Los Angeles International Airport terminal Monday after someone incorrectly said an armed man was on the loose, authorities and witnesses said. Read more at the AP

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Tech

London to Marseille Eurostar Route Turning Into a Surprise Hit: Eurostar International Ltd. said it’s seeing strong demand for seats on a new train service that will push the boundaries of long-distance rail travel from London by linking the U.K. capital directly to the Mediterranean. Read more at Skift

Interview: How HotelsCombined Builds a Brand Out of an Affiliate Business: Founded in 2005 in Sydney, Australia, metasearch company HotelsCombined built its business through affiliate partnerships but recently has been on a brand-building expedition of its own. Read more at Skift

How Smart Airlines Use E-Mail Marketing to Bring Shoppers Back: One strategy for progress in the e-mail marketing space is as simple as a friendly reminder. Or reminders. Read more at Skift

Is in-flight Wi-Fi just another way for airlines to profit from bad service? Like it or not, Wi-Fi is becoming more and more common in the air. And so are the complaints about it. Read more at Elliott

Raul Leal Virgin Hotels

Hotels

Hilton Worldwide Reports Strong Profits, Room Growth for 2014: Hilton Worldwide reported today full-year 2014 earnings that beat revenue projections but fell short on earnings per share. Read more at Skift

InterContinental CEO Thinks Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal: Breakfast is the most important meal for hoteliers looking to improve the guest experience, InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Richard Solomons said yesterday during the company’s fourth quarter and full-year earnings call. Read more at Skift

Virgin Hotels Thinks It Knows What Female Travelers Want: As cheeky (or patronizing) as it sounds, it’s not a terrible business strategy. Women represent about half of all business travelers, according to the Center for Hospitality Research—and Virgin Hotel’s main competitors (W hotels, Thompson, Kimpton, Hyatt) are already adapting. Read more at Skift

Starwood Says CEO Pushed Out Due to Too Slow Growth: News of Starwood Hotels & Resorts CEO Frits van Paasschen’s resignation surprised the travel industry Tuesday morning. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Via Emily Binder, how NOT to use a moving walkway.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin

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