Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at recent comments by Marriott’s CEO, travel tech insights from the Empire State Building, and restructuring at G Adventures.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, January 13, and there’s no reason to be superstitious. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano is calling on the U.S. government to reduce the lengthy wait times for visitor visa interviews at U.S. consulates, which he believes are damaging tourism, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
Capuano, who runs the world’s largest hotel company, said during an interview at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce-run meeting on Thursday that the country is losing out on billions of dollars of travel spending. He noted that the average wait for visa interviews in some nations now exceeds 400 days. O’Neill writes wait times and reasons for interview delays vary by consulate, with some consulates not having replaced staff they lost during the pandemic.
The U.S. Travel Association recently projected that between 2 million and 6 million may be unable to visit the U.S. in 2023 despite applying to do so.
Next, tour and activities operators that made tech advances out of necessity during the pandemic are reporting a surge in business as travel rebounds. Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy writes the Empire State Building Observatory is a prime example of how companies in the sector can position themselves for growth by adopting new technology.
Attendance for the Empire State Building Observatory has already recovered to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Its president, Jean-Yves Ghazi, noted the attraction has made changes to better suit travelers looking to book experiences much earlier instead of at the last minute. It’s implemented timed ticketing, which gives guests the ability to reserve a timeshot. Brophy writes the practice has helped both attraction and its guests plan ahead as well as reduce overcrowding.
Finally, tour operator G Adventures is restructuring as a holding company G Travel Community, a move that would enable G Adventures to make long overdue brand acquisitions, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Brophy.
G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip said in an exclusive interview that the restructuring is part of its five-year strategy that includes bringing more brands and travel companies under one umbrella. Poon Tip, who will become the chairperson of the G Travel Community, confirmed that G Adventures has been in discussions with companies regarding acquisitions.
Brophy writes the restructuring comes roughly two years after G Adventures secured a large investment from private equity firm Certares. Poon Tip said Certares has not made any demands on G Adventures despite the tour operator not making a single acquisition since receiving its funding. But he acknowledged that the G Travel Community is expected to make acquisition deals.
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