Skift Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Business Travel

Best Cities For Digital Nomads

3 hours ago

Neat new research from Savills, those global property folks, on the best places for long term remote workers — also called digital nomads by the cooler peeps — to live. And work, of course. The “Savills Executive Nomad Index” ranks 15 destinations, all of these cities below have either have a digital nomad visa program, or equivalent, or in the case of the US and European countries, are already part of a large economic bloc that allows free movement of people for living or work. They offer favorable climates year-round, a high quality of life and have established prime residential markets, according to this index.

Lisbon tops the ranking thanks to the high quality of life that Portugal offers.

More here.

Iceland Does It Again, This Time With Cute Horse Emails

4 hours ago

It is *always* the small countries that punch above their weight in creative output, this is certainly true in travel marketing, and it has been true of Iceland in its creative marketing output since..well…the unpronounceable volcano put it on the map. By the same people who brought you Icelandverse, this time it is with its native cute horses typing out out-of-office emails for you…well, there is some sleight of hand here, but easiest to explain with a video:

This below was my “horse-typed-out” OOO message.


Bill Gates’ Four Seasons May Regret Hotel Deal Talks With Vatican

18 hours ago

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts won a contract bid from an arm of the Roman Catholic Church to take over a property in Rome and build a new hotel. But Toronto-based Four Seasons — controlled by Bill Gates’s Cascade Investment — may come to regret submitting a bid for a potential $52.4 million (€35 million over 27 years) contract for a new hotel close to the Vatican.

Rival bidders are complaining, and some locals are up in arms, Corriere della Sera reported.

Four Seasons hadn’t publicized its last-minute entry. Its bid came in several million higher than ones from second-place finisher Blastness/Ripetta and third-place finisher Omnia/Lazzarini.

The jilted bidders have filed an appeal. The runner-ups claim they had been told to keep bids modest because this wasn’t meant to be an ultra-luxury project. The request for proposal said “four-star superior,” a lower designation in Italy’s hotel system, Corriere della Sera reported. About three dozen bidders had competed.

Some locals are also upset that the Vatican would allow a luxury hotel with 64 rooms, 11 suites, and a couple of sumptuous apartments to open.

The property is the ancient Palazzo della Rovere on Rome’s Via della Conciliazione, and it’s formerly the headquarters of the Jesuits.

The Renaissance-era structure needs renovations that Four Seasons can afford to pay for and handle skillfully. But Pope Francis has championed the poor in homily after homily. Will he be happy about this luxury project about 650-feet from St Peter’s Basilica?

See the 5,000-word piece in Italian from Corriere della Sera.


Hotel Workers Want Guests to Demand Daily Room Cleaning in New Ad Campaign

21 hours ago

The daily hotel room cleaning is now an innocent relic of our pre-covid days, that much is certain. Among the many ramifications beyond the lower expenses for hotels is that the cleaning staff is now getting paid less, for less work. And when they do clean the rooms after a guest’s stay, because they haven’t been cleaned daily during their stay, the rooms are dirtier and harder to clean, according to the largest U.S. hotel union Unite Here.

“Hotel housekeepers are sharing stories about filthy rooms, painful workloads, and lost income as they ask guests to choose daily housekeeping in a new digital ad campaign…the ads…will be served to frequent travelers and bookers of business meetings,” says the announcement from Unite. The union estimates that ending daily housekeeping industrywide would eliminate up to 39 percent of all U.S. hotel housekeeping jobs and cost housekeepers – overwhelmingly women of color – $4.8 billion in annual lost wages.

The WSJ has more details: Daily cleanings come down to guest preference, hotel operators say…Hotel operators say that in some cases, they lack workers to service rooms daily. There were 17% fewer payroll workers in the accommodation sector in April than there were in April 2019…Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the hotel association, says hoteliers in the group are hiring housekeepers quickly, in some cases on the day they apply for the job.


Turkey’s Tourism Sector Is Forecast to Grow Twice as Much as Economy Over Decade

23 hours ago

Turkey’s travel and tourism is predicted to grow at an average rate of 5.5 percent annually between over the next decade, more than twice the 2.5 percent growth rate of the country’s overall economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC)
latest Economic Impact Report (EIR).

Tourism in Turkey is set to return to near pre-pandemic levels this year, according to Reuters.

A leading Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on the WTTC’s forecast. It noted that the travel data intelligence firm ForwardKeys showed that, this summer, Turkey is set to be the fourth most popular hotspot for Western European travelers, on average.

Read the WTTC data

Online Travel

Hopper Fintech Products Now Being Bought by 70 Percent of Its Ticket Bookers

1 day ago

A fascinating interview with Hopper founder and CEO Frederic Lalonde on A16Z’s Future, with a deep dive on his thinking about superapps in travel and Hopper’s potential path into becoming one. In it, a nugget that now 70 percent Hopper’s revenues are coming from their add-on fintech produces, AND 70 percent of ticket bookers through Hopper’s app and site are now adding one or more these products to their shopping cart as part of the buying process, the average being 1.7, according to Frederic.

From the interview:

“With technology, if you’re able to predict things, if you’re able to create a digital experience, in principle, you should be able to cancel out every possible risk that you face when you travel. It turns out that A) you can, and B) that almost everybody has one thing that they worry about when they travel — some people care about prices, others care about arriving on time, some people just are worried the hotel is going to suck. But nobody worries about everything going wrong. Today, at least one of these add-ons are attached to 70% of the travel transactions we sell. When customers buy them, they average 1.7 per booking.”

On his superapp-in-travel ambitions: “I believe it’s a Western anomaly that Amazon isn’t into travel, that Facebook doesn’t sell anything, and that Snapchat does no e-commerce. I think it’s because we’re used to a Western construction for older people that is slowly getting eroded. And just like QR codes, just like text, as people adopt the technologies, we’re going to become more and more Easternized.

It stands to reason that either one of the travel companies will add high-frequency purchases to what they’re doing. We’re one contender for that. Or a high-frequency app that does delivery, like Uber, will get into travel. Or one of the e-comm companies is going to get into travel. It has to end with a couple of companies that offer a lot of things, and travel is just one thing.”

Online Travel

Airbnb Creative Ad Team Now Numbers In Hundreds

1 day ago

Airbnb shelved its huge $800 millions marketing budget when the pandemic hit. Now as a company not just recovered but thriving, it has brought all its marketing, advertising and creative in-house, and the team is now numbering in hundreds, according to Airbnb’s global head of marketing Hiroki Asai, in an interview with Digiday.

Airbnb ad campaign from late last year, focused on hosts.

From the Digiday story:

Is the in-house team still responsible for the creative? What about media? 

It’s all done in-house. All of our creative, all of our marketing, all of our design, it’s all done in-house. In total it’s a few hundred people. We work with an agency to buy the media. Strategy and execution is all done internally. Creative is done internally, production is done internally.

We’ve heard that some companies have been taking more of a hybrid approach to in-housing media recently, working on strategy in-house and an agency to execute. That seems to be the approach you’re taking.  

It makes a lot more sense. With something as specialized as media buying when it’s all about scale, [and] connections, it doesn’t make sense to build that. The strategic part of it, absolutely. The planning, absolutely. For us, on the creative side, everything is internal. That’s something I’m deeply passionate about. The best way to create great work is to create it in-house. [Over the last two years,] we have built out an advertising team on top of the creative team we do have. We’ve also deeply integrated it a lot more tightly. We have our advertising team working tightly with our marketing team working tightly with our design team, product team, the whole thing is much more integrated. By integrating deeply, that allows you to create some of the stuff we launched.


Spirit Airlines Rejects JetBlue, Again

1 day ago

The board at Spirit Airlines took little time in weighing in on JetBlue Airways’ hostile takeover bid. The New York-based carrier’s latest $30-per-share offer “is NOT in the best interests of Spirit and its stockholders,” the board said Thursday.

“JetBlue’s tender offer has not addressed the core issue of the significant completion risk and insufficient protections for Spirit stockholders. Based on our own research and the advice of antitrust and economic experts, our view is that the proposed combination of JetBlue and Spirit lacks any realistic likelihood of obtaining regulatory approval, while our company faces a long and bleak limbo period as we await resolution,” said Mac Gardner, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Spirit Airlines, in a statement.

JetBlue fired back with its own statement: “The Spirit board, driven by serious conflicts of interest, continues to ignore the best interests of its shareholders by distorting the facts to distract from their flawed process and protect their inferior deal with Frontier. Regarding regulatory approval, Spirit would have you ignore the current regulatory climate to think that approval of their Frontier deal is assured. That is simply not true. Both deals are subject to regulatory review, and both deals have a similar risk profile.”

JetBlue launched its hostile takeover on May 16, nearly two weeks after the Spirit board rejected an unsolicited offer from the airline. The Spirit board supports a merger with Frontier Airlines, which shareholders will vote on on June 10. The Frontier-Spirit combo also has the backing of both airlines flight attendant union.


EasyJet Working Towards Getting Enough Staff This Summer

1 day ago

Low-cost carrier easyJet admitted it missed out on a strong Easter break after failing to have enough operations staff.

CEO Johan Lundgren said easyJet was “absolutely focused” on strengthening its operational resilience after it canceled flights due to crew absences, as it posted a first-half loss of $674 million.

Demand is set to be strong this summer, and the airline reported bookings made in the last 10 weeks were above pre-pandemic levels. It also expects to fly 90 percent of its 2019 capacity in the third quarter. Sold ticket yields for the fourth quarter are 15 percent above 2019 levels.

New U.S. Data Shows Consumers Buying Fewer Things While Spending More on Experiences Like Travel

2 days ago

It’s a cliche of travel sector conferences. Consumers, especially younger ones, prefer to spend money on experiences, such as travel, rather than goods. But it’s still eye-popping to see the trend literally show up in new U.S. consumer data.

From Bloomberg News today:

“Inflation-adjusted spending on goods fell 0.5 percent in March from the prior month, while services rose 0.6 percent, matching the biggest gain since July. Not adjusted for inflation, the gain in services spending was broad-based and led by components including international travel, restaurants and hotels, according to the Commerce Department.”

The cost of goods has been rising, and so has the cost of travel. But consumers decided in the past few months they would rather spend on things like travel. That’s good news for airlines like United, whose CEO has just reiterated that consumers are willing to pay extra for flights.

The data echoes another report out today from Mastercard. As Skift reported on Wednesday:

“International tourism spending on experiences is quickly outpacing spending on “things” since July 2021, according to a new travel report by the Mastercard Economics Institute.”

See Bloomberg's story for the bigger picture.

Tags: news blog