Skift Take

In Skift's top stories this week, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says the airline will beat margin leader Delta Air Lines by improving the passenger experience, Accor executives explain why the hotel giant has struggled to make inroads in the U.S., and American Airlines CEO Doug Parker expresses confidence that business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels.

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.

United CEO Vows to Beat Margin-Leader Delta on Quality not Quantity: United CEO Scott Kirby is talking up his investments in product, and quality improvements at the carrier. But it will still be a steep challenge to beat Delta Air Lines, the longstanding leader on quality and margins in the U.S.

Why Accor Struggles to Gain Traction in the U.S.: Some sort of marriage, whether an outright acquisition or more of a loyalty alliance, is necessary to give Accor stronger footing in the U.S. But the pandemic didn’t provide any opportunity to capitalize on takeover bargains.

U.S. Bancorp to Buy Will Smith-Backed Travel Platform TravelBank for $200 Million: Banks see that integrating travel and expense products is an effective way to enhance their own credit card offering to customers, corporate or otherwise. Expect more deals before the year’s out.

American CEO Says Airline Will Coexist, Not Compete, With Zoom: Drawing parallels with the 1990s internet boom may seem odd, but Doug Parker thinks history will repeat itself, and more relationship building on virtual meeting platforms will only encourage more meetings in person.

Global Hotel Rates Could Rise 4 Times Inflation in 2022: New Report: Companies shouldn’t underestimate the knock-on effect of this year’s labor crisis, and this new report is a timely heads-up to help them better manage their costs next year.

Growing Vaccine Passport Fraud Leaves Tour Operators Struggling to Crack Down: As relieved as many tour operators have been to resume trips, the challenges those companies face from vaccine scamsters are growing, and is a huge distraction and risk for these companies trying to come back from the precipice.

CWT Emerges From Bankruptcy With $100 Million to Invest in Business Travel Tech: A milestone in the agency’s transformation saga, which could see its new owners opt to acquire other technology players, and target mid-size customers, as part of its post-pandemic rehabilitation.

OTA Insight Nabs $80 Million in Funding From Spectrum Equity: The SiteMinder IPO in Australia served as inspiration for numerous travel tech and data intelligence companies, including OTA Insight. The latter hopes that Spectrum Equity can help OTA Insight make a similar leap.

Soho House Will Raise Prices Fearlessly Despite Spiking Inflation: Profitability remains elusive for Soho House parent Membership Collective Group. Raising prices will help the company eventually change this, but company leaders must be careful about not scaring off people who could begin to think membership no longer holds its value.

What TAP Air Portugal Shows Us About the Travel Recovery: A government bailout always helps, but the recovery of Portugal’s home airline points to the benefit of serving resilient markets in South America and Africa.

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Tags: accor, airlines, american airlines, cwt, Scott Kirby, united airlines, vaccines

Photo credit: United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby (right) believes his airline will beat margin leader Delta Air Lines by improving the quality of the customer experience. Air Force Association / Flickr

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