Skift Take

Responsible travel brands are taking steps to ban bookings of tourist attractions involving direct human interactions with animals. Given all the SeaWorld controversies that the film "Blackfish" uncovered, coupled with ongoing federal probes, couldn't ASTA have picked an alternative venue for its opening reception?

The American Society of Travel Agents’ annual get-together kicks off Sunday night with its opening reception in — of all places — SeaWorld San Diego.

Many travel companies stuck with their SeaWorld partnerships too long when it became clear it had a killer whale problem, which was documented in Blackfish.  At the same time that travel agents, who undoubtedly book a lot of SeaWorld tickets for their clients, will be hanging out at the theme park, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigation whether SeaWorld officials made misleading statements on or before Augusts 2014 to investors about the impact of Blackfish on the company. As a matter of corporate/trade association responsibility, might not a different venue been a better pick for ASTA?

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of travel agent educational workshops at the ASTA conference, which runs through Tuesday, and updates coming from the likes of Hilton, Holland America, and Carey International.

Hurricane Harvey Impact

Our hearts go out the people of southeast Texas, which is getting hammered by Hurricane Harvey. Houston, Texas is seeing calamitous flooding as of this writing.

Beyond the human and overall economic tragedies, the impact to the travel industry will be felt for weeks, if not months. United has cancelled more than a thousand flights as of Sunday morning, and suspended United Express operations in the region, United’s flight schedule is so disrupted that it it extended travel waivers to customers through September 11.

Meanwhile, Southwest has canceled about half its flights at Houston Hobby airport, and said its schedule may be disrupted through September 1. You can expect all of these flight-cancellation and -delay numbers to rise dramatically early this week.


New Choice Hotels CEO Is In the Wings

Soon-to-be Choice Hotels CEO Pat Pacious, who will lead the chain beginning September 12, earlier than expected, has to be champing at the bit. Does he intend his tenure to be a a sort of Steve Joyce 2.0 — or a continuation of the policies of his predecessor — or will he strike out in new directions. Watch this space Tuesday for some answers.

You can read all of our Travel This Week reports here.

Crosswinds at Ctrip?

Chinese online travel giant Ctrip reports its second quarter earnings on Thursday in Shanghai, and investors and others will be looking to see how a potential spanking from Chinese regulatory authorities related to Ctrip’s travel insurance cross-selling practices will impact the company. Ctrip allegedly wasn’t being as transparent as it should have been when bundling flight sales with travel insurance. It’s a big issue: Travel insurance may generate up to around 20 percent of the company’s revenue by some estimates.

We’ll also be looking to hear more about competitive dynamics domestically in China, and any updates on the Skyscanner integration and the flight-search engine’s financials.

TravelSky’s Welcome Mat For Airline Fees

TravelSky, China’s state-backed airline distribution system, will discuss its first half of 2017 financial results — which were released Friday — on Monday in Beijing. Tech and airline watchers will be keen to know more about how its Ireland-based OpenJaw Technologies unit, which TravelSky bought in April 2016 for $39.4 million, is doing in its attempt to bring ancillary tool and sales, meaning fees, into the Chinese market.

TravelSky is the main middleman for ticket sales between domestic Chinese airlines and travel agencies locally and abroad. While the Beijing-based company is not often mentioned in the same breath as its Western counterparts — Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport — TravelSky is indeed a significant player.

The 4,000-person firm has been a darling of the Hong Kong stock market. Shares for the company are up 47 percent in the past year on optimism about the growth of China’s aerospace sector overall and upbeat profit reports from the company specifically.

In the first half of 2017, the company generated revenues of $469 million, up 14 percent from the same period a year earlier. However, net income fell a fifth to $187 million. Sean O’Neill

Labor Day Weekend Gas Prices Could Skyrocket

Labor Day weekend in the United States kicks off on Friday, and as people hit the road to see family and friends, or to get a last feel of sand between their toes before it’s back to school or work, gasoline prices could rise dramatically because of the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

The Associated Press quotes Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza as projecting prices at the pump to increase $0.05 to $0.15 per gallon, but up to $0.25 if Hurricane Harvey takes out a refinery.


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Tags: airlines, asta, choice hotels, ctrip, seaworld, travelsky, ttw

Photo credit: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones poses with "Sandy," a bottlenose Dolphin, at SeaWorld San Diego August 2, 2017. ASTA's global conference was to host an opening reception at SeaWorld August 27, 2017. SeaWorld San Diego

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