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A few weeks ago, I had a long chat with the CEO of Silvercar, which offers a simple car rental experience to users and was recently acquired by Audi.
Silvercar is an interesting case, straddling the line between an easy-to-use service for consumers and a resource for upscale business travelers.
The same type of person uses Silvercar for pleasure and business, according to Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider, echoing the reality that travelers often bring their personal preferences developed on vacation into their business travel purchases.
The company is also gearing up for a future that includes automated vehicles, but that’s another story entirely.
Speaking of other stories, look below for all the corporate travel news that’s fit to read.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor
Business of Buying
Interview: Silvercar CEO on Evolving With Shifts in Consumer Behavior: Silvercar remains an interesting outlier in the car rental space. As part of Audi, it will be interesting to see how it grows its operation in the U.S. as self-driving vehicles hit the mainstream.
The Race to Faster In-Flight Wi-Fi Means Passengers Will Pay More: Finally, in-flight Wi-Fi is becoming faster and more available across the board. Go ahead and add the “best Wi-Fi” option to your budget of extra fees on top of the plane ticket.
Qatar Airways Makes Concessions in Long Open Skies Battle With U.S. Legacy Carriers: It looks like the conflict between the U.S. — mostly Delta, American and United — and Qatar Airways is finally over, with Qatar agreeing to make concessions probably because a Saudi-led boycott against Qatar is putting it under duress. Will Emirates and Etihad be next to cut a deal?
Marriott Commission Cut on Group Bookings Could Ripple Across Hotel Industry: Marriott will use its formidable presence in the North American hotel market to squeeze travel agents and meetings planners. The big question is whether competitors will follow suit. Could Marriott be setting the stage for a full-blown commission cut on all hotel bookings that would completely disrupt the travel sellers?
Disruption + Innovation
Why Air Canada Is Starting From Scratch With Its Loyalty Program: Like most airlines, Air Canada knows a lot about its customers. But in 2020, once it launches a new loyalty program, it will have more flexibility to slice and dice data to deliver personal offers to passengers. Let’s hope customers don’t find it creepy.
Blacklane Raises $40 Million: Laughing all the way to the bank is even more fun when you’re in the back seat of a chauffeured car. The founders of the Berlin-based professional driver service Blacklane have received significant funding from an investor in the Gulf states, a growing regional source of investment for travel companies.
Issues the Hospitality Industry Will Ignore at Its Own Peril: The answers vary but there’s at least one overriding shared sentiment. Even if times are good, there’s always room for improvement in any industry.
Mezi Lands With American Express: The artificial intelligence-powered chatbot app has been acquired by American Express shortly after a pivot to business travel. Mezi already powers the company’s chat-based concierge, so the deal makes sense.
Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.