Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

Booking Holdings and Expedia in Arms Race to Deliver the Connected Trip: From the wishful thinking and hype of years ago, the connected trip is beginning to draw real investment and to become a thing. It will take a very extended period of time to make it a more meaningful development. In that faraway horizon, will there indeed be any differentiation among the leading providers?

Travel Manager Serko Accelerates Global Expansion With Booking.com Partnership: Now that Zeno is well-established in Serko’s home market, the next step is to bring that same popularity abroad. The travel management company is forming partnerships with major players to help it gain traction in the U.S. and Europe.

Serko’s Quest to Conquer the World With Its Artificial Intelligence-Powered Booking App: Serko made its first moves into the U.S. about a year ago, but the company still has a long way to go before it it is established in the North American market. Its newest partnership with Booking Holdings should help it become a global company.

Airbnb Chief Operating Officer to Leave Her Post on the Cusp of Going Public in 2020: It’s all about its anticipated public offering at Airbnb these days. Shore up the plethora of safety issues, make peace with regulators, and bring in seasoned operational executives that the Wall Street crowd will look favorably upon. Was Belinda Johnson a casualty in that push?

Airbnb Tests Teaming With Google’s Vacation Rental Business in the U.S.: Airbnb has intensified its testing of Google’s vacation rentals business. Does this mean Airbnb will fall down a rabbit hole of Google dependence? Not necessarily. Romances can be so fleeting.

Did Booking.com Swallow Kayak? No, It’s Just a Marketing Thing: Booking.com may be a household name in Europe, but Kayak and OpenTable are far better known in the United States. Parent company Booking Holdings is touting the three companies’ ties to advantage Booking.com in a way that might be a tad confusing to travel industry executives or NYU Hospitality students, but consumers could care less.

The Rise of Smart Airports: A Skift Deep Dive: Cutting-edge innovations could boost the passenger experience, so why aren’t more airports getting smarter with tech? Our 5,000-word report covers the opportunities and obstacles facing airports worldwide when it comes to tech.

China’s Massive Social Media Landscape Presents Challenges to Luxury Marketers: The Chinese luxury market is huge but not monolithic. That’s why understanding the capabilities of the country’s myriad social media apps — and knowing how to nuance messages within them — is key to connecting with this lucrative market.

Luxury Brands Strive to Improve Messaging for Chinese Market: Luxury brands today are designing stories for global citizens, but telling those stories in different markets requires more than a different app — it’s about delivering a message that resonates with the core brand and the local culture that they’re speaking to.

Airbnb Signs 9-Year Sponsorship Deal With Olympics Ahead of Tokyo Games:
That Airbnb chose the Olympic Games for its first-ever global sponsorship deal makes sense — the event both aligns with the brand’s ethos and will be a boon for its bottom line as it aims to go public in 2020.

Incoming CEO of Airlines-Backed ARC Sees Direct Bookings as Growth Area: Airlines Reporting Corporation’s expansion into providing services around direct bookings is intriguing. We’ll be watching how it handles the challenge without vexing the travel agencies that will remain its core customer.

EasyJet Seizes on Thomas Cook’s Demise With New Packaged Vacation Offerings:
With Thomas Cook out of the way, there’s certainly more space in the package holiday market. People still want to buy these types of holidays and EasyJet is a well-known brand.

Booking Startup Stayker Makes Room Blocks Less Risky for Planners: Event planners are putting their money on the line when signing a room block contract, and often the gamble is just not worth it. If Stayker catches on, the group booking rate may start to pick up again.

EDreams Adds Hotels to Prime Subscription Scheme: EDreams is certainly putting a lot of effort into its Prime subscription offering. The test will be how it goes down in other markets and how it performs over a number of years. Do the numbers stack up over the long term and will people keep renewing?

Is Singapore’s New Hotel Guest Authentication Just Creepy Surveillance? Self check-in by facial recognition at hotels is unlikely to be an industrywide reality anytime soon in Singapore — and that’s not exactly bad news.

Singapore’s New Hotel Automation Stokes Big Brother Image: A new system that enables the sharing of guest data between hotels and the authorities is meant to increase productivity at hotels. Really? Better communication is needed.

Tencent Bets Big on Ctrip-Backed LvYue Hotel Group: Travel Startup Funding This Week: Is there anything that Trip.com Group (formerly Ctrip) won’t do? LvYue Hotel Group is its upscale counterpart to Oyo, a set of hotel brands run in partnership with local operators in 10 Asian countries and run on cloud-based software.

Companies Still Miss the Mark When Measuring Biz Traveler Experience: Employee engagement is a hot topic in both the business travel space and the events space. The problem is that no one has yet figured out how to accurately track it.

How to Make Reserving Room Blocks Less of a Gamble: It’s tough to provide event housing when the financial risks are so high. New platform Stayker aims to give planners a bit of security.

Photo Credit: Travelers are waiting on a long line in a crowded Budget car rentals site. Booking sites have hopes to make this process quicker with connected trips. Jim Jegans Jr / Flickr