Skift Take

In Skift's top stories this week, Marriott indicates W Hotels will get a makeover, Google Maps was the most downloaded travel app in 2021, and Omicron batters European hotels.

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.

Marriott Signals a W Hotels Refresh Finally Under Way: Marriott has been promising a W Hotels makeover for years, but a recent string of openings and deal signings show there is finally some momentum in reviving the brand.

Google Maps Tops in 2021 as Most-Downloaded Travel App: No big surprises on Google Maps, but outpaced rival Airbnb in downloads in the online travel agency category globally by nearly 20 million in 2021. That’s not a game-changer, but it’s important if Booking is going to eat into Airbnb’s daunting direct-booking advantage.

Omicron Is Hurting Hotels Most in Europe: U.S. and Chinese hotel performance surged in recent weeks while European properties saw a dive in demand. American and Chinese hoteliers shouldn’t waste time taking a victory lap

TravelPerk Enlists Former CEO to Scale Up After Raising $115 Million: Gillian Tans is now back in the travel space after investing in the corporate travel agency and joining its board. Here’s what the Spanish startup hopes to gain.

Companies Allow Travel Again But Keep It on the Down-Low: These travel managers have no regrets in keeping things hush-hush among employees, because why risk everything when all it takes is another variant to emerge? Backtracking after a two-year hiatus is, understandably, not something they’re prepared to do.

Letting the Air Out of Online Travel’s IPO Bloat: Stock markets, at their best, can be hype killers, and public investors shot down many inflated private company valuations in 2021. This may be a sobering development for IPO and SPAC wannabes in 2022.

Stayntouch CEO Aims to Defy the Odds in Hotel Tech Against Oracle Hospitality: It’s never been easier to start a travel tech business, but it’s also never been trickier to scale one. Former equity analyst Tom Underwood became the CEO of Stayntouch because he believes the startup can defy the odds.

David Neeleman’s Startup Breeze Rankles Pilots Union With Australia Workaround: There are probably enough qualified pilots in the United States for Breeze to hire. But some may want higher wages than Breeze wishes to pay. Why shouldn’t the airline look abroad for labor? It is a perfectly legal program.

Australia’s Camplify Benefits From the ‘Van Life’ Trend: In 2021, Camplify went public as a kind of Airbnb for recreational vehicles. Its financial numbers help serve as a benchmark for the potential of this segment, with its many competitors.

Delta CEO Predicts Omicron Peak Will Mark Shift to an Endemic Covid-19: Delta took an Omicron-sized hit in December that has continued into the new year. But the airline remains bullish on the recovery, which CEO Ed Bastian says can move forward apace now that Covid-19 is likely moving toward being an endemic, like the flu.

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Tags: covid-19, google maps, hotels, marriott, omicron, omicron variant

Photo credit: Marriott has big plans for its refresh of W Hotels prayitnophotography / Flickr

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