Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Labor Day road trips, Korean Air’s successes, and innovative hotel design.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Monday, August 22 in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill writes that hotel design is largely bland and in need of radical innovation, this coming after Skift released its list of the world’s top 15 hotel designers. So what’s driving the lack of creativity overall? O’Neill turns to architect John Hardy for answers in this week’s Early Check-In briefing column.

Hardy, the chair of hotel development firm The Hardy Group, sees hotel brands doing the bare minimum to stand out from their rivals, often so they can make franchises easier to sell to hotel owners. Hardy also said that lenders and owners discourage creativity regarding design.

But Hardy believes outside pressure can help drive hotel brands to be more innovative. He created the Radical Innovation Awards to provide a platform to brands he sees pushing the envelope in hotel design. O’Neill writes those awards have uncovered concepts the hotel industry has since popularized, including one for rooftop gardens at hotels. Hardy added that the rise in nature-centric hospitality experiences could help spur innovation.

Next, more than half of Americans are planning to do road trips for Labor Day weekend despite concerns about high gas prices, reports Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.

A survey by travel industry website The Vacationer found roughly 53 percent of U.S. adults intend to take Labor Day trips. About 137 million Americans plan to travel over the holiday weekend, a figure similar to the number planning Labor Day trips last year. But with almost 53 percent of respondents intending to take some sort of Labor Day road trip, gas prices still remain a significant concern for travelers. Despite some recent relief at the pump, and costs that are much lower than nearly every other nation on earth, 50 percent of Americans said high prices would impact their Labor Day travel plans. While The Vacationer co-founder Eric Jones said travelers wouldn’t forgo trips, he believes they would likely opt for less expensive or shorter Labor Day travel.

Korean Air Survived the Pandemic With No Losses But Faces New ChallengesFinally, Korean Air finds itself with the rare distinction of being the only large global airline not to post a loss during the pandemic, largely due to its cargo operations. But the carrier is still grappling with a slow recovery in passenger traffic, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

Although Korean Air recorded a roughly $570 million profit during the second quarter, cargo continues to account for the overwhelming majority of its revenue. Passenger revenue only represents 14 percent of Korea Air’s total revenue. Bhutia writes the carrier’s passenger traffic difficulties stem from South Korea not fully reopening, unlike nations in Southeast Asia. Aviation analyst Brendan Sobie argues South Korea needs to ease pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements, which he believes are impacting travel demand.

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Tags: coronavirus recovery, guest experience, korean air lines, skift podcast, usa

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