Good morning from Skift. It's Tuesday, May 31, 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 explains what should concern hotel execs (hint: stagflation), why Amex GBT is going public this week, and why Cuba tour companies are cautious.
Hotel executives are largely focused on dealing with the pent-up demand for travel this summer. But Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill reports they should be worried about stagflation, a combination of slow economic growth and rising prices, emerging in the United States, Europe or Japan.
Three of four investment fund managers surveyed by Bank of America predicted U.S. stagflation, which could be driven by factors such as supply chain disruptions, rising energy costs and possible missteps by central bankers and governments. Frits Dirk van Paasschen, the former CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said stagnation would present a new challenge for industry executives since hotels haven’t had to grapple with it for decades. O’Neill writes that some travel leaders are uncertain if they should push for growth or pump the brakes amid concerns about rising prices.
However, O’Neill adds that not everyone sees that stagflation as a major concern for the hotel industry. Ryan Meliker, the co-founder and president of consultancy firm Lodging Analytics Research, isn’t worried about stagflation. Meliker said the current inflation is driven by factors that aren’t long term, including the war in Ukraine disrupting energy markets.
We turn now to big news from American Express Global Business Travel. The world’s largest corporate travel agency said last week it will start trading as a public company on Tuesday, reports Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.
Amex GBT, which announced its merger with blank check company Apollo Strategic Growth Capital last December, will trade under the symbol “GBTG” on the New York Stock Exchange. Although Amex GBT is heading into a volatile market, where fears about inflation and a recession are on the minds of investors, CEO Paul Abbott expressed optimism about the agency’s future. Jorden writes the stock market debut comes at a good time for Amex GBT, with more travel companies reporting in recent weeks a faster-than-expected recovery for business travel.
Finally, the Biden administration’s recent decision to ease some travel restrictions to Cuba has U.S. tour operators planning to return there or run more trips on the island. But those companies acknowledge uncertainty about conducting Cuba trips past the 2024 U.S. presidential election, the result of which could drive a change in U.S. policy, reports Editorial Assistant Jorden.
Jeff Roy, the executive vice president of Collette, said his company is considering taking U.S. travelers to Cuba again. However, he described Cuba as volatile in terms of it remaining open for travel, admitting Collette’s plans to conduct trips on the island hinge on how long it believes the new U.S. policy will be in effect. Collette took, on average, between 500 and 1,000 Americans annually to Cuba between 2012 to 2018 before the Trump administration ended authorization in 2019 for the group trips it ran in the country.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch