Skift Take

Sometimes I have a vision of a cohesive mobile experience for hotels, where everything from booking to room entry and billing can be accomplished through one app. We're not anywhere close to that at scale, but steps are being taken to fix what's broken.

It seems like business travelers have been waiting for mobile technology to fix their pain points when checking into a hotel for a decade now. It’s still not really possible to seamlessly check in and use your phone as a room key at most hotels, although the component technologies have been around for a while and have been deployed in various forms.

Conichi has been trying to streamline this process for years at this point, so I was interested to discover CEO Max Waldmann is now relying on corporate partners to convince individual properties with high business travel demand to come on board. Check out my conversation with Waldmann as part of our Future of Business Travel Interview Series.

Last week, trapped in San Diego International Airport during a delay, I texted a question to some friends: Would you rather have your flight delayed and have no one next to you on your flight, or have your flight leave on time and be guaranteed a middle seat? It seems U.S. airlines have been thinking about this, and Delta is going to operate more planes with fewer middle seats. United, too, is going to place a premium on better seats in the economy cabin. Head below for all our coverage of airline innovation (and upcharges).

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet me @sheivach.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor

Airlines, Hotels, and Innovation

How Streamlining Hotel Technology Will Help Business Travelers: Instead of selling their platform to hotels, Conichi is now relying on corporate partners to help push through their technology from the other end. This can only be good news for business travelers as more efficient check-in processes and simpler expensing move into the mainstream.

Air Canada Wins Takeover Battle With $345 Million Bid for Loyalty Program Aeroplan: It took some takeover gamesmanship but Air Canada has Aeroplan back in its fold. It looks like a higher bid for the loyalty program was still a cheaper prospect than for the carrier to do it on its own.

Travel Agents Get a Dose of the Sharing Economy Through Sabre Deal With Booking: This move signals Sabre’s eagerness to remain a powerhouse for travel agents in a changing landscape where alternative lodging, driven by the popularity of Airbnb, takes off. Come 2019, Sabre aims to be more of a one-stop shop for agents. Some agents applaud the move; others couldn’t care less.

United’s Revenue Architect Plans to Add New Fees for Slightly Better Seats: This is a tough call. In some ways, what United is doing with preferred seats is unfair. It may make it harder for families to sit together. But at the same time, most of United’s competitors have similar fees.

Delta Will Fly Newest Jets With Fewer Middle Seats on Key Business Routes: Who says airlines don’t prioritize passenger comfort? As long as carriers calculate passengers are willing to pay for a better experience, they will provide it.

Marriott and Starwood Face Speed Bumps in Loyalty Merger: The planned integration of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards did not go entirely smoothly this weekend. Some members were not shy about expressing their unhappiness.

The Future of Travel

Gen Z Travelers Will Overtake Millennials by 2019: We can generalize all day about who’s happier, Gen Z versus millennials, but what does that mean for travel? At the very least, Gen Z has never traveled analog and may take the democratization of travel for granted.

7 Issues Confronting the American Society of Travel Agents: In its rebrand to the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA wanted to keep the acronym as is. But is “Society” really a gateway to the future? The success or failure of the move may hinge on the effectiveness of the organization’s new marketing campaign. We can’t wait to give it a look.

Air Canada Tries to Minimize Disruption as Chief Operating Officer Leaves: Air Canada may be losing a key player to Air France-KLM, but the loss doesn’t have to be catastrophic.


Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Photo credit: The lobby of the Park Hyatt Beijing hotel. Hyatt

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