Skift Take

Now a rush is on for travel giants to move onto the long-neglected challenge of attracting smaller businesses to their travel platforms. It won't be surprising to see more business travel booking startups get swept up in this wave.

Flight Centre invested in Jay Walker’s Upside this week, keen on tapping into its technology across its various corporate travel brands.

Yet another travel giant is looking to gain more traction among small businesses. The deal is reminiscent of American Express Global Business Travel’s investment in Paul English’s Lola, although many of the details remain unclear.

BCD Travel, an early investor in Upside, has retained its stake as well, perhaps complicating matters for the startup. Check out the story below.

We’ve also got the latest on the future of hotel consolidation (is Accor in play?) and changes to how United is pricing its award seats.

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, Senior Editor

Airlines, Hotels and Innovation

JetBlue Is Flying to Europe: Breaking Down the Competition: JetBlue is revealing one of aviation’s worst-kept secrets by announcing flights to Europe. The move will attract fire from competitors, but even so, JetBlue is not risking the company with these new routes.

Flight Centre Invests in Jay Walker’s Biz Travel Company Upside: It sure looks like global corporate travel giants are starting to take the small- to medium-size business travel market seriously. For some startups that didn’t find traction in the marketplace, this means another shot at success.

Is Accor the Next Starwood? What’s Next for Hotel Mergers: Accor as a takeover target? Stranger things have happened. (Anbang, anyone?) No matter what transpires in hospitality going forward, though, it’s clear that consolidation is here to stay.

United Adopts Dynamic Pricing for Award Seats: On November 15, United is moving to a model in which it dynamically prices award seats. While that may irk frequent flyers, it opens up a whole new tier of fares to budget travelers.

Room-Block Perks for Conference Guests Need More Promotion: It turns out loyalty status and the power of the corporate card are a couple of reasons conference attendees don’t book inside a hotel block. Event organizers should do a better job informing attendees of the perks that come from booking with the group.

Fyle Raises $4 Million for Expense Management: It’s eye-catching that Fyle, a Bengaluru-based expense management software company, has received funding from Tiger Global, a venture firm that was an early backer of Flipkart, Spotify, LinkedIn, and Despegar.

The Future of Travel

Oyo to Flood Japan With Budget Hotels in New Deal With SoftBank: Japan is a destination that’s never, ever described as affordable. But Oyo, with its budget hotel concept, could be transformational for its tourism economy.

Overhead Bins Stir Lots of Flyer Anxiety: Digital Tech Is Here to Help: Even many seasoned travelers have overhead-bin anxiety. Can Boeing and Airbus find a way to make it easier to match travelers with bin space?

Virgin Atlantic Refreshes Business Class for Newest Airbus Jets: Virgin Atlantic has had a reputation for cool since the 1980s. But here’s the reality: In recent years, Virgin has been a lot like most airlines. We’ll see if this new cabin helps the airline get its swagger back.


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

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Photo credit: Upside and Priceline founder Jay Walker, second from the left, speaking at Skift Global Forum 2016. Skift

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