Skift Travel News Blog

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

Business Travel

Ashton Kutcher’s Venture Firm Leads $15 Million Investment in Climate Tech Startup

2 weeks ago

Actor (and travel tech investor) Ashton Kutcher is at it again, as his Sound Ventures venture capital firm has co-led a $15 million investment in climate tech company Chooose.

It’s the latest in a long chapter of travel investing for Kutcher, revealed on Friday, with previous deals including Affirm, Airbnb, Hipmunk and Citymaps, which was bought by TripAdvisor .

Norway-based Chooose, which offers climate solutions such as carbon offsetting, carbon removals and sustainable aviation fuel, already works with global companies and airlines including British Airways, Air Canada and Japan Airlines. It also works with Booking.com, Trip.com and SAP Concur.

Startups like this have fast emerged out of the need to give companies better insight into their carbon footprints when flying. This extra capital will go towards scaling up its platform, and further “embed climate action solutions into customer experiences.” It also plans to expand into new geographies, thanks to the funding provided by Soundwaves, which is the sustainability-focused vehicle of Kutcher’s fund.

GenZero, a decarbonisation-focused investment company owned by Singapore’s Temasek, also co-led the investment round. Existing investors Shell Ventures and Vinyl Capital also participated in the strategic capital round. Other current investors include travel technology giant Amadeus and Contrarian VC.

UPDATE: This article was amended to remove the series B mention, which had originally been provided.

Travel Technology

Amadeus Creates New Payment Business Called Outpayce

3 months ago

Travel technology company Amadeus said it was making a “significant investment” by setting up a wholly-owned business called Outpayce, which will focus on “delivering a smooth and connected travel payment experience across the traveler journey and accelerating the pace of fintech innovation in travel.”

It has also applied to the Bank of Spain for an eMoney licence, so Outpayce can eventually provide regulated services in the European Economic Area, with the intention to offer card issuing and Open Banking capabilities in travel.

The new division will build on the work of Amadeus’ existing payments business with the launch of an open API-based platform that helps third-party payments and fintech companies connect quickly and easily to travel companies.

It predicts 80 percent of companies plan to either match or go beyond 2019 levels of investment in fintech innovation in the next 12 months.

Hopper recently secured an extra $96 Million investment from Capital One to expand its partnership.

Business Travel

Sonder Adds Former CWT CEO Michelle Frymire to Its Board

5 months ago

In a further sign of its push into business travel, Sonder has added Michelle Frymire, the former CEO of corporate travel agency CWT, to its board of directors.

The next-generation hospitality company this month also announced it has a chain code, SS, in the Sabre and Amadeus global distribution systems, and earlier this year expanded its sales team to offer corporations negotiated rates and attract groups.

However, months after that expansion it restructured its operations, cutting 21 percent of corporate roles and seven percent of frontline roles, including its chief technology officer.

Frymire has experience on this front too, as during her 12 months at CWT she oversaw its financial restructuring and eventual exit from bankruptcy.

Manon Brouillette, executive vice president and CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, is stepping down from Sonder’s board to focus on her current job at Verizon, the company said.

Business Travel

Sonder Gets a Chain Code in Sabre and Amadeus to Push Move Into Corporate Travel

5 months ago

Sonder has been trying to up its footprint in corporate travel, announced that it now has a chain code, SS, in the Sabre and Amadeus global distribution systems.

Airport with busy business travelers.
Business travelers at an airport. Source: Getty Images

When travel agents are looking to book corporate clients in Sonder properties, having that chain code makes it easier for them to search and find them, Sonder said Wednesday.

Sonder said it obtained the chain code through a partnership with RateGain, which uses a connectivity switch solution to process electronic hotel bookings.

Sonder, a property manager of short-term rentals and hotels, said in its most recent earnings call last month that it had nearly 400 corporate accounts, up from around 250 at the end of March.

Travel Technology

Amadeus Launches Market Forecasting Tool for Hoteliers

7 months ago

Amadeus said on Wednesday that it had launched a market forecast capability “to help hoteliers accurately track revenue and manage costs.” The tool is part of its business intelligence software suite, RevenueStrategy360, for hotels that it expanded after its acquisition of TravelClick several years ago.

“Most tools today look at historical data, but ours focuses on forward-looking data,” said Katie Moro, vice president of data partnerships. “We track on-the-books reservations data from companies that both use our services and those that don’t. We blend it with historical seasonality and trends.”

Moro spoke from Orlando at the trade show HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference).

More than half of hotel bookings are being made within a week of travel, Moro said, citing data for bookings being made across all channels for about 35,000 hotels globally using Amadeus’s business intelligence software. So many revenue managers at hotels have shorter windows to make decisions on rates, promotions, and allocating inventory.

Amadeus’ forward-looking data shows global hotel bookings are on par with 2019 and surging.

“We’re tracking on a weekly basis hotel reservations coming in, less cancellations,” Moro said. “For the week ending June 17, we saw an increase of about half a million reservations over the week prior. We had also seen a huge spike ahead of Memorial Day, so it’s possible this increased demand is for the July holidays.”

Business Travel

Microsoft Enters New Phase of Amadeus Collaboration With Cytric Booking Tool Deal

7 months ago

Software giant Microsoft, a close collaborator of technology firm Amadeus, is moving its employees over to its Cytric online booking tool, which they will now use to plan, book and change business trips.

This deal follows a similar client win with Accenture, with the consulting giant also a close partner in helping Amadeus integrate deeper into Microsoft’s 365 platform, including Teams and Outlook.

Microsoft will roll out Cytric to a selected group of employees first, with the initial phase including the rollout of Cytric Easy and the integration of Cytric Travel into Microsoft 365.

“This milestone lays another foundation block for integrating technology into the travel booking and in destination experience,” said Eric Bailey, global travel director for Microsoft. “We want to simplify every aspect of business travel for our employees, Cytric does this with its intuitive user experience.”

In 2020, Microsoft spent was $44.2 million on flights in the U.S., down 85 percent from its $275 million 2019 volume, according to a BTN ranking, which noted its booking tool was SAP Concur in that year.

Amadeus announced the global strategic partnership with Microsoft in 2021. It includes migrating to cloud technology, as well as exploring new products and solutions, including leveraging its Xbox gaming console’s virtual reality capabilities to explore the metaverse, and potentially adding travel features to LinkedIn.

Rudy Daniello, executive vice president at Amadeus Cytric Solutions, added Cytric would help “push the boundaries of what the corporate travel sector has seen until this point.”

In 2020, Amadeus rival Sabre announced a partnership with Google.

Hotels

Amadeus Wins Tech Contract With Top U.S. Hotel Manager Aimbridge

7 months ago

Aimbridge Hospitality, the largest U.S. company dedicated to running hotels on its own and on behalf of owners, said on Wednesday it had signed an exclusive contract with Amadeus, the Madrid-based travel tech giant, to provide business intelligence tools across its organization.

“The market conditions we face as a business today continue to evolve at a more rapid pace than we’ve previously experienced,” said Andrew Rubinacci, EVP Commercial & Revenue Strategy, Aimbridge Hospitality, in a statement. “Having access to our portfolio performance enables us to make more effective revenue decisions down to the individual property level and aid in strategic decision making.”

Aimbridge has more than 1,500 hotels across the U.S. and in 23 countries and will use Amadeus’s software to monitor performance, enhance forecasts, and track market shifts. It will use Amadeus’s tools, which include Demand360, Agency360, and RevenueStrategy360. Some of these tools were first acquired by Amadeus through its acquisition of TravelClick several years ago. Amadeus has since refined and integrated the software.

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