In China, business travel is big business. This week, we look at the market through two different lenses.

First, Skift Travel Tech Editor Sean O’Neill examines the financials of Chinese global distribution system Travelsky, finding that costs are rising along with tensions among industry partners.

Second, Skift Asia Editor Raini Hamdi looks at the emergence of automated hotels across China and what innovation from companies like Alibaba means for the greater hospitality sector.

We’ve also got takeaways on flexible meeting spaces and what Lyft’s IPO means for other travel startups, if you’re into that sort of thing.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at as@skift.com or tweet me @sheivach. Another reminder to reach out if you want to chat at the ACTE conference in Chicago next week. See you all there.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Editor

Airlines, Hotels and Innovation

TravelSky’s Monopoly in China Helped Boost Annual Revenues: TravelSky, China’s state-backed airline distribution and software services company, reported solid revenue growth in 2018. But the company’s insulation from market competition risks creating complacency, and some signs suggest Chinese airlines are frustrated.

Lyft IPO Teaches Lessons to Other Rising Travel Startups: Some travel startups dream of going public. Lyft’s initial public offering shows that profitability isn’t necessarily as important as growth in the eyes of some investors, among some other key lessons.

Demand for Flexible Meeting Spaces Increases, But Who Can Pay for Them? Venues are enticing meeting planners with innovative and technology-driven flexible meeting spaces. Meeting planners have embraced these creative spaces but a major challenge remains: budget.

Travel Advisors Serving LGBTQ Travelers Must Know All the Nuances: Travel advisors serving the LGBTQ community need to be familiar with norms and laws affecting their clients in destinations around the globe. That doesn’t mean banning every unfriendly destination, but does require knowing how to deal with them.

RIP Wow Air: Discount Airline Finally Calls It Quits: It’s the end of the road for Wow Air. But what does its failure mean for Iceland’s aviation and tourism industries?

China’s Alibaba Is Shaping the Future of the Machine-Driven Hotel: Chinese e-commerce players are racing among themselves to provide technology solutions to hotels. Alibaba fires the latest salvo with a prototype of the future hotel, FlyZoo.

The Future of Travel

Alaska Airlines Leverages Virgin America Acquisition to Compete Aggressively on Loyalty: Alaska’s continued efforts to appeal to transcontinental airline passengers are creating lucrative bonuses for frequent flyers.

AirAsia CEO Looks to Disrupt Again, This Time in Online Travel: Tony Fernandes is taking AirAsia on “the final part of the company’s evolution,” one that will see the airline become a tech player. But it’s one thing to disrupt legacy carriers, and another to disrupt the disruptors in the online travel space. He disagrees, of course.

What Happened to the HotelTonight Clones? In light of Airbnb buying HotelTonight, Skift looks back at the many copycats of the mobile-first hotel booking agency. Where are they now?

SUBSCRIBE

Skift Senior Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

Subscribe to Skift’s Free Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Photo Credit: High-speed trains in China. The U.S. Army Band / Flickr