Skift Take

For this weekend's roundup of top travel stories we look at a few Super Bowl ads, the U.S. tourist visa backlog, Hilton and Expedia's earnings, and more news from this week.

First Things

Earlier this week we did our first event on LinkedIn live, and we think it went pretty well. You can watch a recap of the discussion about what travel marketers should expect in 2023 on LI or back on Skift, too.

We didn’t love Expedia and Booking’s Super Bowl ads in 2022, but this year we took a pre-game look at two new NFL spots for Sunday’s big event in which United jokes at Southwest’s expenseBooking employs Melissa McCarthy, and Priceline pitches affordability.

Lastly, we’re about to run out of early-bird tickets to our big hotel event in London at the end of March, the Skift Future of Lodging Forum. Join hotel professionals from around the world as they learn from leaders at Accor, Starwood Capital, Airbnb, Google, TUI, and more.


Top Headlines

7 Questions for the U.S. State Department Official Out to Fix the Visa Delays Mess

Travel executives have taken the U.S. government to task for not remedying more quickly the delay in processing travel visas that they say is costing the U.S. travel industry in big ways. We went to the top government official working on this.

The Dolly Parton Solution to Tourism’s Labor Crisis

Travel companies — especially destination marketing organizations — need to heed lessons from the innovative approach at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood on how to make employees feel valued. That’s critical in attracting workers back to an industry still plagued by labor shortages.

The Tours and Activities Sector Doesn’t Want Its Own Apple Plug Problem

Standardization of outdated tours and activities systems by a non-profit group called OCTO sees a teething-problem approach to modernization. How long will this attempt to customize the sector take to reach an innovation tipping point?

Expedia Sees Tech Grunt Work Paying Off in 2023

Corporate turnarounds aren’t pretty, and require fortitude. Expedia expects big things in 2023, but Vrbo’s tech migration will be part of the ongoing challenge.

American Express Taps Microsoft AI for New Expenses Tool

Travel and expense companies are rushing to roll out new artificial intelligence tools and features, but it’s hard to tell how much this is about game-changing tech compared to cashing in on the ChatGPT bandwagon.

Paying Michelin Guide to Help Promote Your Tourism Can Be a Messy Business

Cities are paying for Michelin to come, but people are divided on what this means for their restaurants. As the Michelin Guide expands with the help of tourism boards around the world, controversies continue around the guide’s role in tourism marketing.

Amadeus Execs Offer Glimpse Into Tech Investment Trends for Next Decade

Once travelers have decided to book a trip, they don’t want to jump through hoops to pay for it. Travel companies should prioritize ways to making paying as easy as possible.

A Future Vision for Tradeshows

We used AI images to illustrate the five ways our Skift Meetings Editor-in-Chief MigueI Neves sees the the future of trade events.

Southwest Airlines to Dock Executive Bonuses After ‘Epic Screwup’ Over Holidays

Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson was grilled by U.S. senators over the carrier’s meltdown during the year-end holidays in Washington, D.C., Thursday. “We messed up,” he said at a hearing of the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Hilton Sees Signs of Pandemic’s Pent-Up Demand Moderating in 2023

The stunning year-over-year pace of growth that defined travel in 2022 is starting to slacken as consumers and business travelers succeed in catching up on trips lost in the pandemic and spending down their savings. That said, Hilton’s fourth quarter revenue and profits were stellar.

Chart showing the increased number of U.S. travelers booking based on discounts.

Skift Research: Discounting Is Coming Back in Play

Discounting had little impact on travel booking behavior during the pandemic, but recent high prices are making discounting more effective again. Read more at Skift Research

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