Skift Take

For this weekend's roundup of top travel stories, we look at Google and Meta's earnings, as well as political moves in the U.S. to reduce visa wait times and combat "junk" fees by airlines and hotels.

First Things

As other sectors deal with post-epidemic corrections, travel brands continue to grow as they make up for lost ground over the last three years. Earnings season continued this week and both Meta’s and Google’s results showed the strength of travel brands during the last quarter. Read on.

As you plan your 2023 events, make sure to review Skift’s slate of events for the coming year. We are starting out first in March in London with the Skift Future of Lodging Forum, featuring leaders from Accor, Google, TUI, Awaze, and more. We’d love to have you join us.

Top Headlines

Google Flights Could Shift Strategy After Heavy Layoffs

Why doesn’t Google promote Google Travel as a one-stop shop? The layoffs at Google Flights show there’s too much ad revenue in play on the side of the flights business to merit such an all-in approach.

Hilton CEO Says U.S. Government Needs to Act Now on Visa Backlogs

Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton and incoming national chair of the U.S. Travel Association, called on Wednesday for U.S. government officials to cut visa wait times that he said were hurting the country’s domestic travel sector and U.S. federal revenues.

President Biden Calls to End Unfair Flight, Hotel and Ticket Fees

The White House first raised concerns that airlines and hotels weren’t properly disclosing all its fees upfront. Now it’s going a step further with the President calling on the industries to strip those fees.

New Field & Stream Hotel Brand Gets Backing From Starwood

scaled up high-end brands W Hotels, St. Regis Hotels, 1 Hotels, Treehouse Hotels, and Baccarat Hotels — said it would help launch a limited-service hotel brand focused on the outdoor sector. Enter the iconic media brand Field & Stream, founded in 1895.

Online Travel Companies Make a Bundle Investing Customer Cash

The longtime business models of online travel companies ranging from Airbnb to Expedia and are getting increased scrutiny from the media and short-term rental hosts because these companies hold onto customer funds, and invest them for profits before disbursing them, sometimes months later.

American Airlines Is Profitable and Reliable But CEO Robert Isom Is Expected to Deliver More

For American Airlines CEO Robert Isom to be viewed as one of the top airline industry CEOs, he will have to do more than just produce a steadily profitable and reliable airline, and restore American to the industry preeminence it once had.

Fora Targets the Travel Agent Skills Gap

Fora touts itself as a modern travel agency giving individuals, even those with zero experience, the opportunity to become a travel advisor while keeping their day job. But the potential risk has seen it up its game from a free-to-join model to a quarterly subscription offering, with in-house tech, tools and advanced training.

AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes Refocuses Back on a Superapp Just for Travel

While “disruptive and different” is still the mantra that Tony Fernandes swears by, he says he’s choosing to tread carefully even as he aspires to create an AirAsia Republic.

Cyprus Moves On Without Russian Tourists

Cyprus has been diversifying its visitor base and marketing approach as it fills the huge void left by the loss of Russians and Ukrainian tourists. The island was hit by a double whammy — the pandemic and the loss of Russian and Ukrainian tourists. Like other European Union countries, Cyprus banned Russian flights to the island in response to the Ukraine War. 

A Founder Who Is Refocusing His Mapping App Toward Generative AI

Matthew Rosenberg is not waiting around for generative AI to push him out of a job. He is attempting to do what the rest of the industry should be doing as well — leveraging new tech to build something for the future.

Sommerro Hotel in Oslo Taps Into Immersive Neighborhood Trend

It’s trendy for hotels to try to create a live-like-a-local experience for travelers, but Sommerro House in Oslo, which launched in September 2022, will prompt its rivals to level up their games. “The hotel is housed in an old office building for an electric company,” explained Siri Løining, brand director. “Locals used to come into the building and pay their bills.”

Tours and Activities Should Brace for Spike in AI-Generated Fake Reviews

Generative artificial intelligence has the potential to crash the sentiment pendulum of the review model, if left unchecked. Major online travel agencies would do well to act on verification and disclaimer requirements sooner rather than later.

Meta Reports Travel Was Fourth Quarter Bright Spot

Meta can expect travel to continue its strength considering the industry’s performance versus tech and other sectors. 

Megatrends Snapshot

  • $497.5 Billion

    Value of blended travel market in 2022

  • 2 in 5

    Number of employees requesting blended travel according to travel managers

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Tags: earnings, google, hilton, meta, tourism

Photo credit: Three tourists with a selfie stick at Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Skift

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