Skift Take

Executives from all corners of the travel industry spoke to Skift about how their companies are innovating; this week, we boil down some of the trends most relevant to corporate travel.

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.

We’re one week past this year’s Skift Global Forum and still processing all the insight we heard from some of the top hotel, airline, booking site, and other travel executives who took the stage.

From Delta CEO Ed Bastian discussing the introduction of free texting on most flights to the CEOs of Priceline and Expedia musing about blockchain, the conversations covered a lot of ground.

Executives spoke of the promise of artificial intelligence — as well as its current shortfalls — and the struggle to best use all the data that companies are able to connect.

In addition to revealing a plan for a “hostel on steroids” (fascinating!), Hilton Worldwide CEO Christopher Nassetta said the company is testing “the connected room,” which would know travelers’ preferences. And IHG CEO Keith Barr, a few months into his new job, discussed the importance of improving the guest experience through technology. One example: mobile check-out, which the company has started to allow.

“It’s removed a friction point,” he said.

That was an underlying idea for so many of the conversations — making travel smoother, removing the pain points, and finding ways to get smarter about giving travelers what they want. Those are lofty goals, but all travelers (and especially frequent business travelers) will appreciate any progress in achieving them.

— Hannah Sampson, News Editor 

Business of Buying

U.S. Hotel Fees Forecast to Reach $2.7 Billion in 2017 as Stricter Cancellation Policies Take Hold: We all understand why hotels are collecting more fees but the types of fees and surcharges they’re collecting seem to be changing in interesting ways. More stringent cancellation fees are a trend while totals for Internet-access fees declined. Read more at Skift

Delta to Introduce Free Texting Service on Most of Its Flights: Delta’s move will delight plenty of its passengers and the promise of better Wi-Fi to come is even better news. But please set your phones on silent while you’re texting. Read more at Skift

American Air Sees $500 Million in Cramming More Seats on Aircraft: When airlines engage in competition like this they are simply in a race to the bottom. The more you become like the worst of the low-cost carriers, the harder it is to distinguish yourself from them. Read more at Skift

IHG CEO Sees Better Tech as Making Things Smoother Behind the Scenes: Keith Barr has a clean slate to build off his tenure in China and implement new technology for IHG employees that will help shape and improve the guest experience. We’ll be watching to see if his vision of more seamless technology integration is realized this year. Read more at Skift

What Monarch Air’s Bankruptcy Means for European Aviation: While there might be too many European airlines, Monarch’s demise shouldn’t necessarily be seen as being symptomatic of wider industry problems. Like Alitalia and Air Berlin before it, the UK-based airline and tour operator had plenty of self-inflicted wounds that were exacerbated by external issues. Read more at Skift

Safety + Security

8 Questions About Hotel Safety and Security Raised by the Las Vegas Shooting: Short story: Hotels are just as fine as other businesses. It’s guns in the U.S. that are the problem. Read more at Skift

Travel Ban Lawsuits Begin to Roll In From Opponents: These are the first lawsuits against the latest Trump travel ban, and there will be plenty more. It will be interesting to see if travel companies eventually join some of these lawsuits like they did the last time around. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Elon Musk’s New Plan? Travel to Any Destination In the World in Less Than an Hour: This looks like it may indeed be the future of travel — for some. Jet lag? Nah. Read more at Skift

Priceline Group CEO Sees No Big Investments in Blockchain for Now: A CEO such as the Priceline Group’s Fogel has to pick which new technology to panic about next. He’s keeping tabs on blockchain, but it’s not on his investment to-do list yet. Read more at Skift

Hilton CEO Outlines Plans For ‘Hostel on Steroids:’ Hilton’s plan for an urban micro-brand is certainly intriguing, but we’ll have to wait until next year for more details. Read more at Skift

Lufthansa Finds Collecting Passenger Data Is Easier Than Actually Using It: Airlines are getting better at data analysis. So now they face a fresh challenge of having to leverage that data by making their real-world operations correspondingly more responsive. Read more at Skift

Expedia CEO Doesn’t Need Any Mergers But He’s Monitoring All Possibilities: Expedia Inc. might be quiet on the acquisition front as its new leadership settles in. But history shows the online travel giant will look to be opportunistic as its competition with the Priceline Group evolves. Read more at Skift

Airbnb Still Hopeful About China Despite Earlier Missteps: On Airbnb being successful in China, we’ll believe it when we see it. More power to Airbnb if it can actually pull it off. Read more at Skift


Skift editors Hannah Sampson [[email protected]] and Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Tags: business travel, ctir, sgf2017, skift global forum

Photo credit: IHG CEO Keith Barr speaks at Skift Global Forum last month. He and other executives spoke about ways the industry is evolving to remove friction from the travel experience. Skift

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