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The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.
This week, we took an in-depth (like almost 9,000 words in-depth) look at the way travel is distributed, the giant global distribution systems that dominate, and the disruptors that are trying to bring about change — albeit at a snail’s pace.
Senior writer Andrew Sheivachman points out that the topic is highly relevant to corporate travel. Travel management companies are invested in the status quo, but any changes could have a big impact on how business travel is booked.
As one source in the story said: “We need to radically change and rethink how we innovate. We need to decrease the feedback time between what customers, travelers, or businesses around the world actually need, and what anyone who can produce good software can deliver.”
Speaking of trying to change things up, this week we have even more reaction to the efforts American Airlines is making to incentivize agents to book through a direct connection. Travelport CEO Gordon Wilson described his take as “super skeptical.”
Whether you fall on the side of skeptical, intrigued, or fully on board, keep watching this space. We’ll be following developments closely.
— Hannah Sampson, News Editor
Business of Buying
Marriott Partners With Alibaba to Court the Chinese Travel Market Even More: Smart move, Marriott. Given the growth of the middle class worldwide will be led by China, it’s incredibly insightful on Marriott’s part to be doing all it can to establish loyalty and brand recognition with this crucial market sooner than later. Read more at Skift
Premier Credit Cards for Travel Are Now Requiring a Much Higher Spend: Banks compete for customers by issuing credit cards with lavish perks but there has to be a balance so they can make money. The balance is now swinging back toward the making money part. Read more at Skift
Hyatt Makes Nice With Expedia But Still Talks Up Direct Booking: Hyatt wants to keep important relationships with online travel agencies but emphasize its own channels to foster direct relationships with guests. Read more at Skift
Airline Bumping of Overbooked Passengers Reaches 22-Year Low: Some airlines had defended overbooking as a must-have tool in their revenue management arsenals but the social media backlash forced them to modify their ways. Read more at Skift
Marriott Unseats Wyndham as Best Hotel Loyalty Program in New Ranking: Alaska Airlines continued to scoop up awards for its distance-based loyalty program while Marriott took advantage of its recent merger in this year’s U.S. News and World Report’s loyalty program rankings. Read more at Skift
Disruption + Innovation
Channel Shock: The Future of Travel Distribution: The global distribution systems aren’t going anywhere. Innovation, however, is happening in the margins of the travel distribution marketplace, with airlines seeking to regain control of their destiny. Read more at Skift
Travelport CEO Is ‘Super Skeptical’ About American Airlines Strategy: American is creating a new distribution path that might tweak the role companies like Travelport play in distribution. Travelport boss Gordon Wilson tells us he’s skeptical. We remain undecided. Read more at Skift
TripAdvisor’s Global Food Delivery Expansion Pressures Hotels to Adapt: TripAdvisor has expanded its food delivery service outside the U.S. and Canada, part of its strategy to grow non-hotel revenues. More travelers can chow on crisp-fried shrimp paste chicken comfortably in their rooms. Hotels have no choice but to say bon appetite. Read more at Skift
Turing Smartphone Lux Concierge Can Book Charter Flights: Appassionato has had production glitches and the $1,000 subscription service is a tad pricy. But the idea of a concierge service on smartphones or other voice-enabled devices is already happening. Read more at Skift
JetBlue Switches to Customer Service Tool Built by Startup it Funded: JetBlue will be one of the first airlines to build unified records of all the interactions that each customer has with it via phone, text, and so forth. We hope other airlines copy the move to improve their service. Read more at Skift