Skift Take

This week Skift reported from ITB Berlin, as well as released a podcast about the JetBlue-Spirit merger, and new research about hotel industry performance in 2023.

First Things

Skift’s Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam spent the week in Germany where he reported from the packed floors of ITB Berlin’s many, many exhibition halls. He sat down with Ukraine’s tourism minister for a Q&A, realized that tourism is not ready for the return of the outbound Chinese traveler, and noted that travel brands don’t understand Gen Z’s sustainability priorities.

We’re just under three weeks left before Skift Future of Lodging Forum takes place on March 29 in London, and we’d love to have you join us. We’ve added new speakers this week, including the CEO of Jumeirah. Early-bird pricing is over, but readers of this weekend roundup can save 15% off with the promo code WEEKEND.

Top Headlines

U.S.-India Visa Backlog Gets Urgent Help From U.S. Consulate
Tourism boards are sitting up and taking note of the possibilities that Indian outbound presents for the global tourism industry. Now if only visa issues could get resolved and airline capacity comes back.

Luxury Vacation Rentals Market Is Flying High
Supply and demand are both strong in luxury vacation rentals. Affluent spenders are driving prices higher, but data shows that even the luxury segment with its prestige pricing won’t be immune if consumer anxieties about the economy grow.

Holograms at the Front Desk Replace Real People at Aiden by Best Western
Investing in holograms is bold and risky. But who knows? It may appeal to some guests. And, imagine all the social media posts.

Expedia Joins Companies Pushing Back on ChatGPT Hype
It is fun to speculate about what generative AI could mean for travel, but the online travel agencies are collectively telling us to chill with the hype for the time being.

Google to Debut Hotel Ad Tool to Streamline Campaigns … On YouTube and Search
Paying Google to increase direct bookings seems like a contradiction in terms unless it is for brand advertising on YouTube that truly brings guests direct to the hotel website for the next trip.

Four Seasons Reenacts Memorable Guest Experiences in Latest Campaign
The Four Seasons is in a fierce competition to attract the increasingly lucrative number of young travelers. So it’s touting how its staff have made stays at its hotels unforgettable in an attempt to give it a leg up on its rivals.

Informa Acquires Trade Show Rival Tarsus for $940 Million
Informa, the world’s largest trade show organizer, is acquiring Tarsus, a well-respected competitor. The move will add 160 events and media properties to Informa’s portfolio. It will also strengthen its position in China as it prepares for a full return to in-person events in 2024.

CEO Brian Chesky Wants to Deepen Moat Between Airbnb and Competitors
Retaining its focus on short-term rentals would probably be the largest contributor to any competitive moat that Airbnb has. Neither of its two largest rivals has that luxury.

Niche Tours Building Direct Booking Tools
Few solutions exist to group niche experience and accommodations components together in a niche direct booking tool, especially for tours well off the beaten track — but that seems to be changing.

Why Hotels Can Stay Optimistic in the Face of Economic Uncertainty

We are cognizant of the fact that any 2023 recession is likely to be unlike any we have seen in the past. Further Covid recovery from business transient, group, and cross-border travel still offer tailwinds for growth, meaning that a recession in 2023 could be the first recession in the U.S. to see RevPAR growth rather than RevPAR decline, as shown in the chart below. We also expect the luxury segment to show strength unlike what has been seen in previous recessions.

Subscribers can read the full report here, while non-subscribers can read the abstract here.

Listen In

JetBlue-Spirit Merger Goes to Court: The U.S. Justice Department just sued to block JetBlue and Spirit from merging. Will it win? That’s anyone’s guess, but JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said he plans to fight the regulator. Edward Russell and Jay Shabat discuss.

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Photo credit: Mariana Oleskiv, head of State Agency for Development of Tourism of Ukraine, speaking at Skift Global Forum on Sept. 22, 2022, in New York City. She spoke with Skift in Berlin this week. Skift

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