What to Know Now

News that the Marriott-Starwood merger may be off brought joy to the business travel community earlier this month, but after extended negotiations, appears actually be back on.

Or maybe not, if this morning’s news about Anbang’s higher counter offer is, indeed, a “Superior Proposal.”

The heart of the issue centers on whether Anbang, the Chinese company currently wooing Starwood, can close the deal and whether Marriott wants to make a second counter offer along the way.

Skift’s Deanna Ting has a thorough rundown of Anbang’s previously unreported pursuit of Starwood an article published late last week. And this morning she looked at the generous golden parachutes for Starwood execs in Marriott’s revised deal. Starwood and Marriott’s shareholders now have until April 7 to vote on the merger. Between now and then, the Chinese-led group may take another pass.

Social Quote of the Day

Ah heck. If Marriott wins and they really want to do right by their customers they’d put the Marriott program in the shredder and replace it with the SPG loyalty program exactly as it is. Don’t mess with a good thing Marriott.

Justin @ The Points Guy

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Airlines

The U.S. Government Expects a New Age of Sustainable Airlines: The last decade has been tumultuous for U.S. airlines but years of consolidation, along with innovations like unbundled fares, have improved the profitability of the airlines left standing. The new structure of the industry will contribute to sustainable growth going forward, according to a new report from the Federal Aviation Administration on the future of U.S. aviation through 2036. Read more at Skift

Ryanair’s CMO on the Airline’s Ambitious Low-Brow Content-Marketing Strategy: Kenny Jacobs, CMO of Ryanair, describes the future of content marketing as alchemy combining digital, destination, interactive, customer-generated media. Read more at Skift

The Business Class Seat That Remembers Passengers Is Here: As aircraft interior design evolves, we’re getting closer to the promise of a smart seat which will remember passenger preferences, making air travel more comfortable and familiar. Read more at Skift

Why Delta Is Virgin America’s Most Likely Suitor: Rumors of a potential sale of Virgin America to ‘unknown parties’ have generated interest in the markets and the industry. Read more at Skift

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Airports

Brussels Airport Will Be Closed to Passengers Until at Least Tuesday: Brussels Airport won’t reopen before Tuesday as investigators continue to assess the damage from terrorist bombings at the terminal March 22. Read more at Skift

The World’s Best Airport Is Getting Ready to Double in Size: In ancient times all roads led to Rome but in 2016 most roads — or flight paths — in Asia and beyond lead to Singapore’s Changi Airport, a Southeast Asian hub that will double its annual capacity in 10 years to more than 135 million travelers spread across two new terminals. Read more at Skift

Brussels Subway Death Toll Highlights Airport Security Focus: The Brussels terrorist attacks show how subway passengers can be even more vulnerable than airline travelers. But that’s not where public attention — or federal security spending — has gone in the U.S. Read more at Skift

The Airport Security Measure That Works, Yet too few Airports Use: The departure hall bombing at Brussels airport has triggered debate over whether to move the security cordon at Europe’s airports to the terminal doors and beyond. Most travelers, I suspect, will have the same gut response: What, more lines? Read more at Skift

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Tech

Booking.com Sees Loyalty Programs as a Burden, Not an Opportunity: Loyalty programs among online travel agencies seemed to be a trend with the launch of Orbitz Rewards in 2013 and then Expedia revamped its program a year later but hotel-site Booking.com wants no part of them. Read more at Skift

The Future of Lyft’s Peace Pact with Drivers Depends on a Judge’s Decision: Lyft is offering about 100,000 drivers in California an average of $56.14 each and some non-monetary perks to drop claims that the ride-sharing company systematically exploits them. Read more at Skift

Japan’s Bullet Trains Are Using Comfort and Sake to Challenge Luxury Jets: Dinner with sake, an airport-like lounge and roomier seats. That’s the offer on bullet trains as the Shinkansen rolls into Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, home to some of the country’s best ski resorts, for the first time. Read more at Skift

Kayak Adds a Bot to Slack to Expand Booking Via Messaging Apps: In earlier days it was websites, then smartphones and now messaging apps — travel companies build products where the users are. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

The Inside Story of Anbang’s Long Pursuit to Acquire Starwood: If you tried to describe what’s happened in the past few weeks with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, and Anbang Insurance Group, it might sound like something straight out of a soap opera: Starwood and Marriott seemingly broke off their months-long engagement when another suitor, Anbang, swooped in, just weeks before the wedding. Read more at Skift

Are Luxury Suites Worth the Splurge? Hotels Are Banking on It: Luxury spending among affluent households in the United States was predicted to spike by 6.6 percent over the past year. Read more at The New York Times

What Marriott Is Telling Its Shareholders About Starwood the Second Time Around: Now that Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts have agreed to a newly revised merger agreement — one that involves more cash and a higher value than the original one from November — both companies notified their respective stockholders on March 24, urging them to vote for the new deal, and to hold stockholder votes on April 8 to close it. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Chris Colin has a nice piece about traveling through the desert with his daughter in this weekend’s New York Times. Read it here.

Tips and Comments

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

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