Good morning from Skift. It's Wednesday, March 9, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast describes United Airlines’ fuel challenges, the soothing sounds that set nice hotels apart, and a threat to the U.S. summer road trip.
The airline industry is currently going through a tumultuous period given the ongoing pandemic and now Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to numerous airspace closures around the world. But another major development — the surge in oil prices — has put carriers such as United Airlines in uncharted waters, writes Airlines Reporter Edward Russell.
United Chief Financial Officer Gerry Laderman acknowledged this week that his company has never faced a confluence of crises as it does now. Typically, United is able to pass on 60 percent of fuel price increases to travelers, but Laderman admitted that it is unable to predict if that will be the case again due to the challenges the company is facing.
Russell writes the rise in oil prices has many travel executives nervous about the fallout for the airline industry. U.S. airline stocks suffered a beating on Monday. In addition, a senior airline executive said while a few months of high oil prices isn’t a concern for airlines, a year of high prices is. After raising fares, reducing schedules is the next tool airlines use to counter high fuel prices.
We turn now to another possible effect of high oil prices on the travel industry. A recent survey finds that the surging cost of gas could significantly impact many Americans’ travel plans, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.
Sixty percent of American travelers said — in market research firm Longwoods International’s latest Covid and American Travel Sentiment survey — that the rising gas prices will impact their decision to travel over the next six months. Of those travelers, roughly a third of respondents predicted the impact for them will be significant.
Girma writes the findings are concerning for the U.S. travel industry. While rising gas prices won’t eliminate road trips, the higher costs will impact consumer behavior — especially in regards to how often people choose to travel and how far they venture. Longwoods International CEO Amir Eylon said the increases in gas expenses could lead travelers to reduce their spending on items such as meals and accommodation.
Finally, numerous hotels are continuing to add personal touches to the guest experience. How exactly? They’re increasingly creating sleep soundtracks to help visitors enjoy a more relaxed stay, writes Contributor Carley Thornell.
One such property is the Muir Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which provides sleep soundtracks accessible via QR codes on cards depicting the province’s landscapes. Eugenie Jason, Muir’s general manager, said as sound is an integral part of the guest experience, the hotel wants visitors to take home the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean, which the Muir overlooks.
Thornell writes that now is the time to expand the scope of music programs in hotels that have traditionally focused on tunes in the lobby, elevator and restaurants. One hotel executive said QR codes can help offer guests an undiscovered perspective, describing them as an on-demand tour guide that could provide information about topics such as art and the neighborhood they’re staying in.