In Skift’s top stories this week, numerous travel CEOs express pessimism about a full recovery of corporate travel, a Bill Gates-owned firm becomes the majority stakeholder in Four Seasons Hotels, and Las Vegas emerges as the U.S.' most popular business travel destination.
Throughout the week we are posting original stories night and day covering news and travel trends, including on the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.
What Travel CEOs are Predicting About the Permanent Return of Business Travel: It’s hard to get a true sense of what future business travel demand will look like until international borders reopen and people can return to the office. But it is time to temper the optimism on any significant recovery happening by the end of the year. CEOs seem to finally get this.
The Airline Failures and Bankruptcies So Far in the Pandemic: Given air travel’s standstill in 2020, and the impact of new Delta variant scares, you might think this list would be longer. Still, seeing the airline casualties together like this is pretty staggering.
Bill Gates’ Firm Is Now Controlling Stakeholder in Four Seasons Hotels: This is good news for those who like what Bill Gates as a partial owner has done to help Four Seasons grow in recent years. But there is still a lot of uncertainty around when the market will be back to the kind of conditions that help put heads in beds in one of these glitzy hotels.
Traveloka Taps Breaks on $400 SPAC Deal to Go Public: Are special purpose acquisition companies losing their shine? We’ll find out more in the coming months as other travel startups plan to go public.
Las Vegas Emerging This Fall as the Hottest Corporate Travel Destination Despite Variant Worries: The city is in tune with the pandemic protocol: after the tourists, next come the business travelers. Las Vegas is edging towards recovery, but Delta variant concerns may spoil the party yet.
The New Wellness Imperative for Long-Haul Travel: It’s time to recognize long-haul travel for what it is: an endurance event. For those making the trip instead of the Zoom, there are new imperatives that premium brands need to serve up to cater to these travelers. Hint: it doesn’t look like the luxury of the past.
Spain’s eDreams Odigeo Claims to Spend Nothing on Marketing Its Booming Subscription Plan: Like any online travel agency, eDreams Odigeo spends plenty on marketing to obtain new customers, but is currently spending next to nothing outside its own channels on getting travelers to sign up for its “Prime” subscriptions. No YouTube or banner ads, but this could change soon.
Lufthansa Frequent Flyer Program Tests a Direct to Consumer Warby Parker Model: Lufthansa’s test partnership may or may not work out. But what’s certain is that all major travel rewards programs have broad opportunities to use their customer databases in ways that luxury retailers such as Aston Martin and Omega will actually like.
Marriott CEO Sees Hotels Bouncing Back Quickly After Delta Variant Slump: It is hard to be optimistic about fall hotel performance for companies like Marriott and Hilton — unless the absence of business travel is somehow offset by higher-than-expected leisure travel.
9/11 Tours Are Big Business: For tourists, interest in 9/11 has never waned, but the pandemic has been hard on tours and exhibits. The enormous media coverage of the 20th anniversary of September 11 will hopefully draw new crowds for this special day.
Photo credit: Executives from United Airlines are among several in the travel industry not expecting third quarter business travel demand to reach 2019 levels. InSapphoWeTrust / Flickr