The tides in corporate travel are shifting as distribution companies vie to develop new technology and build partnerships to drive the sector forward.
First, Travelport has finally sold off its payments division to Wex. The move had been expected as soon as Travelport was brought private once again and gives the company a larger war chest as it looks to gain ground on Sabre and Amadeus.
Second, the court battle over Sabre’s attempted purchase of Farelogix is in full gear. While the outcome of the case is uncertain, Sabre has industry experts on its side.
And finally, Sabre is building a new technology program for hotel giant Accor. Accor is one of the most forward-thinking hospitality chains in the world, even if its outsize ambition sometimes leads to interesting failures.
You can check out all three stories below along with the latest on the impact of the Chinese coronavirus on the global travel sector.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Enterprise Editor
Wex Buys Enett From Travelport for $1.7 Billion in a Travel Payments Mashup: With this deal, Wex now becomes a powerhouse in assisting business-to-business travel payments worldwide. The deal also gives cash to seller Travelport, which might use the money to expand its airline tech offerings.
What the Sabre-Farelogix Antitrust Trial Could Reveal About Airline Technology: It’s notable that we had a much easier time finding experts who supported Sabre’s proposed merger of Farelogix than opponents. But this court case will be decided on legal nuances, and its outcome is impossible to predict. We pity the judge who has to endure this crash course in airline technology and distribution.
Accor Taps Sabre for Pilot of Major Hotel Tech Project: Accor recently rebranded its loyalty program under the phrase “Live Limitless.” The company needs to replace its limited technology structure to meet that ambition, and this deal represents a huge commercial win for Sabre.
Chile’s Latam Airlines Improves Premium Product Ahead of Delta Tie-Up: After changing its fare structure to compete with low-cost carriers and earmarking $400 million to improve its cabins, Latam’s rollout of premium economy on domestic and regional routes makes sense. It puts the carrier in a position to offer higher-end services without the added complexity of a major business cabin reconfiguration.
Hotels Are Confused by Rise of Legal Marijuana: Opportunity or Liability? The legalization of marijuana by states is getting murkier in the eyes of the federal government, which has still not legalized pot. Some hotels are embracing certain forms of cannabis. Others don’t want the potential liability. How do they figure out what to do?
The Future Of Travel
Asian Destinations Reel From China’s Outbound Travel Ban: For a string of Asian destinations, China is by far the number one market, so the outbound travel ban that became effective Monday there has shaken tourism businesses even though they know it is for the good.
Wizz Air Looks to Middle East for Further Expansion: Wizz Air’s announcement of a move into Abu Dhabi was certainly eye-catching, but we maybe shouldn’t expect anything similar elsewhere. Rather, the airline seems to be happy just moving into those markets like Armenia, Georgia, and Israel that had previously been underserved.
Corporate Travel to China Down as Companies Stop Business Trips: Huge corporations are putting a stop to staff travel to China and Hong Kong as coronavirus fears continue. This is particularly sad for the Hong Kong industry, which has barely recovered from the political protests.
Senior Enterprise Editor Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.
Photo credit: A conference room in Sabre's corporate offices. Sabre