Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at ominous skies for European airline startups, Sonesta’s business traveler push, and hotel mocktails.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, October 6. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Winter has historically been a low season for air travel in Europe. But challenges such as inflation and soaring energy costs are making this winter especially difficult for European startup airlines that launched during the pandemic, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Russell cites two Norway-based carriers, Flyr and Norse Atlantic Airways, as startup airlines facing some challenges this winter. Flyr, which launched in June 2021, said this week it would cut its winter schedule drastically. The carrier will suspend flights to most of the 27 destinations it served in September. Meanwhile, Norse Atlantic Airways announced it’s suspending flights to Los Angeles for the winter. A Norse spokesperson said high fuel prices and inflation led to the company’s decision.

However, Russell writes that other European startup airlines appear to be in a better situation than Flyr and Norse. Iceland-based Play Airlines has not cut any routes from its winter schedule despite postponing planned service to Orlando.

Next, hotel group Sonesta International Hotels has been looking to increase corporate bookings after rapidly expanding during the pandemic. So it’s launched a new loyalty program to capture more group bookings from smaller companies, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

Sonesta’s Business Plus program provides members perks including discounts of up to 12 percent off best available rates, on-demand meeting rooms and food and beverage credit. Sonesta piloted Business Plus at 50 of its branded hotels during the second quarter of this year, officially launching the program in September. The company has expanded Business Plus to all of the hotels it manages.

Sonesta executives said it offers special business rates to small groups that companies such as IHG, Marriott and Hyatt don’t. However, Parsons writes that the new program isn’t a part of its franchised properties yet. Sonesta does have plans though to expand Business Plus to its more than 1,000 franchised hotels.

Finally, hotel brands have long showcased alcoholic drinks since they’ve been a significant revenue producer. But an increasing emphasis on healthier travel is steering more hotels toward offering guests mocktails, reports Contributor Carley Thornell.

Thornell cites the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman as one property providing guests more non-alcoholic options. Keisha Parcells-Robb, the hotel’s director of food and beverage, said evolving guest preferences drove it to replace rum-punch umbrella drinks with fresh-pressed local juices. Parcells-Robb added that travelers have become more health-conscious and more mindful of what they consume.

Thornell also noted that the growing shift to non-alcoholic beverages has benefitted hotels’ bottom line. Jennifer Barnell, the president of the Curator Hotel & Resort Collection, said non-alcoholic ingredients cost less to source, adding those savings extend to both guests and hotels.

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