Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Hilton’s happiness equation, Delta’s South American boast, and Bhutan’s gold bounty.
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, March 23. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
When Skift asked Hilton how it’s updating its brands for a new era, it was expecting to hear mostly about color palettes and breakfast options. But the company instead said workforce satisfaction was the most important factor. Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill reports the company believes a happy workforce will help its 19 brands thrive.
Hilton Chief Brand and Communications Officer Matthew Schuyler said his biggest accomplishment at the company has been improving its workplace culture. Schuyler cited independent rankings that listed Hilton one of the best and most diverse workplaces. He added Hilton engendered goodwill by creating a job board for workers who had been laid off during the pandemic.
O’Neill writes Hilton has also entered into partnerships with non-travel companies as part of its strategy to stay relevant with travelers. Hilton is adding at least one piece of Peloton fitness equipment to each of its U.S. properties, a collaboration Schuyler described as a strategic mash-up.
Next, Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein recently annointed his company South America’s leading carrier. However, American Airlines believes that’s not the case, reports Contributor Ted Reed.
Hauenstein said at a J.P. Morgan investor conference that Delta’s partnership with South America’s largest airline group LATAM had made it no. 1 in the region. But American executive Jose Freig responded that the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier is actually South America’s dominant airline, arguing it operates more flights to the continent than any other U.S. carrier.
So what do the statistics reveal? A spokesperson at airline industry data company Cirium said Delta comes out on top in some areas while listing others that American prevails in.
Finally, Bhutan’s tourism recovery has taken a hit in part due to the high sustainable tourism fee it requires visitors to pay. So the country is now offering duty-free gold to lure tourists it’s missing out on — especially from its biggest source market India, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Bhutia writes the measure is largely geared toward travelers from India, where gold is considered an important part of the culture. Indian tourists had been allowed to enter Bhutan for free prior to 2020. Bhutia adds travel agents believe introducing the tourism fee for Indian citizens has deterred cost-conscious travelers from visiting. One Bhutan-based travel executive said the country has seen a roughly 50 percent drop in visitors from India from pre-Covid levels.
However, Bhutia notes certain conditions must be met before travelers can obtain duty-free gold, including spending at least one night in a certified hotel.
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