Good morning from Skift. It's Wednesday, May 11, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses Hyatt’s optimistic earnings, Kenya’s pro-electric vehicle push, and how personal and professional lives have merged in a way that has fundamentally changed travel.
The pandemic has blurred the boundaries of work and personal lives for people worldwide, which has had enormous implications for travel. Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali writes in an essay that the blending of work, play and travel has resulted in a new reality he calls The Great Merging.
While Ali writes that hints of The Great Merging were apparent several years ago, the pandemic has accelerated trends such as the blurring of business and leisure travel. He adds, ahead of this Wednesday and Thursday’s Skift Future of Lodging Forum in New York, that travel’s two main lodging sectors — hotels and short-term rentals — are also merging in ways that are making the traditional distinctions between them obsolete.
Ali ends his essay by asking 20 questions about the future of travel in the era of The Great Merging, such as whether the new environment will enable more travel and what opportunities will exist for investors across the industry.
Next, Hyatt — like other hotel companies — is grappling with financial market turmoil caused by challenges like rising U.S. interest rates and the ongoing war in Ukraine. But Hyatt is expecting to see a significant rebound soon, thanks to a surge in luxury travel, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian said at Hyatt’s first-quarter earnings call on Tuesday that it hasn’t experienced a slowdown in bookings, with its average daily rates in April hitting an all-time high for the company. Despite recording a net loss of $73 million during the first quarter, Hyatt executives said rebound in business and premium leisure travel would steer the company into the black later this year.
Hoplamazian cited a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers that revealed households earning more than $150,000 were planning to increase their travel spending in the next six months. He said Hyatt will benefit from the spending splurge due to 42 percent of its properties being classified as luxury, lifestyle, or resort stays. Leisure travelers were responsible for close to 60 percent of Hyatt’s room revenue in the first quarter.
Finally, Kenya recently announced it would allow only non-fossil fuels in its national parks and game reserves by 2030. But Contributor Harriet Akinyi reports the move creates a major challenge for the country — being able to afford the cost of introducing electric vehicles to its park lands.
Although emissions from fossil fuels have increased in Kenya since 2000, Akinyi writes the country’s travel executives have mixed feelings about the government’s decision. Gerard Beaton of safari company Asilia supports the move despite electric vehicles being a considerable expense for national parks that had two years of virtually no revenue. Beaton said Kenya would be setting an example that other nations could follow regarding how to protect wild spaces.
However, John Musau, general manager of the Tamarind Tree Hotel, expressed concerns that the cost of buying and maintaining electric vehicles would render staff at tour operators and hotels jobless. Musau cited his hotel as an example, stating without electric vehicles, it would be unable to take guests to the Nairobi National Park, a major local attraction.