Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

London Bans Sphere Venue. MSG Looking to Build in New Location

8 months ago

Sphere Entertainment Company, sister company to Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation MSG, is looking for a new location for its second Sphere venue after its London-based plans were blocked by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. 

Khan rejected the Sphere project, similar to Las Vegas’ $2.3 billion Sphere, despite the development’s potential for significant foreign investment in the UK.

“While we are disappointed in London’s decision, there are many forward-thinking cities that are eager to bring this technology to their communities. We will concentrate on those,” a Sphere Entertainment spokesperson told Skift.

Planned for the edge of East London’s Olympic Park in Stratford, Khan turned down the venue due to concerns about light pollution, increased electricity usage, and a need for more sustainable green energy solutions. The project also posed potential risks to heritage sites in the Stratford area.  

MSG’s executive chairman and chief executive, James Dolan, said in an interview with The Standard that the company had no intention to appeal. Dolan called the move “political” after a five-year process with the London Legacy Development Corporation, thousands of hours of consultation with community forums, and 100 changes to the proposed venue’s plans.

Dolan expected to sell the site pegged for the £1.5 billion ($1.87 billion) MSG Sphere arena

He questioned why London “wouldn’t want the best show on earth?”, citing U2’s extended residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“Everybody comes out of that show saying it’s the best thing they have ever seen. You should talk to Bono. He is going to be disappointed it’s not in London. Bono sees the Sphere in Vegas as an art installation. He tells me all the time. I also think he might like one in Dublin.”

Online Travel

Oyo Looks to Expand UK Presence to Over 200 Hotels This Year

1 year ago

Budget hotel chain operator Oyo has announced its intention to expand its UK presence with plans to increase its number of hotels to over 200 by the end of this year.

As part of this expansion, Oyo will be adding more than 50 properties to its portfolio in the country by 2023, including in Leeds, Brighton, and Plymouth.

Oyo is currently in advanced-stage negotiations with over 30 hotels as it plans to bring more hotels into its platform this year, said Puneet Yadav, head of Oyo UK.

The company presently operates over 150 small hotels in 65 cities throughout the UK, with Otterburn, Folkestone, Worcester, Swansea, Crewe, Kidderminster, Solihull, Peterhead, and Boston as its latest additions.

In 2022, the company’s UK operations generated revenue that surpassed 2019 levels, with a 140 percent increase from 2021. Additionally, Oyo observed a 50 percent rise in revenue per available room compared to 2021.

Last year, the company expanded its platform in the country by adding 40 hotels. London, Birmingham, Torquay, Great Yarmouth and Manchester are its top markets in UK, according to Oyo.

The company currently has 27 hotels in London region on its platform and 38 in the Midlands region.

Talking about the interest from hotels owners, Gautam Swaroop, CEO of OYO International, said, “Our result-oriented tech stack has been a draw for many entrepreneurs in the UK who are looking to improve and scale their hotel business,”

Swaroop said the expansion would enable many small businesses in the region to manage their business with ease.

Oyo has presence in over 35 countries globally. It owns a vacations home business in the European Union called Oyo Vacation Homes, which operates legacy brands such as DanCenter and Belvilla.

Strengthening its portfolio as a full-stack vacation homes provider, last year the company acquired Croatia-headquartered Direct Booker and Denmark-based vacation rental operator — Bornholmske Feriehuse.

Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service stated this week that Oyo is expected to maintain sufficient liquidity buffers to sustain its operations until it becomes cash flow positive over the next 12 to 18 months, supported by a robust recovery in travel demand and cost optimization measures.

Tourism

London Marathon Charges International Participants $32 Carbon Fee Tied to Travel

1 year ago

The London Marathon, set to attract 50,000 runners on Sunday, took several steps to lower its carbon footprint, including charging foreign entrants who had to travel to the city a $32 fee (26 pounds) as part of their entry applications.

A 2013 photo of Britain’s Prince Harry (left) and Richard Branson (right), the CEO of Virgin, posing on the podium with London Marathon winners on the Mall in central London. Source: Reuters

“I’d say absolutely, (sustainability) is something that has become much more important, whether it’s the participants, to sponsors, to partners,” said Kate Chapman, the London Marathon’s sustainability adviser, according to a Reuters story.

Travel has the largest environmental impact on large gatherings such as marathons, the story said.

In another environmentally friendly step, 2,500 runners chose to have trees planted instead of accepting an official race T-short.

However, the Reuters story said the medals that the London Marathon will be handing out to the thousands of runners will not be recyclable.

Business Travel

Hertz, Uber Bringing 25,000 Electric Cars to European Cities

1 year ago

After renting out some 50,000 electric cars to Uber drivers across North America, Hertz is now taking its partnership with the ride hailing giant to Europe, where it will make 25,000 Tesla and Polestar vehicles available.

The European expansion begins in London this month, before it adds other European capitals including Paris and Amsterdam.

The expansion follows Hertz Global Holdings’ announcement it would order up to 175,000 General Motors electric vehicles over the next five years. It starts taking delivery of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs in the coming months.

“… We are moving in a very big way toward electric vehicles and Hertz has taken a rather aggressive strategic stance,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr recently told Skift.

Uber, meanwhile, wants to become a fully electric platform in Europe by 2030. “Expanding our partnership with Hertz into Europe will significantly boost our transition to zero-emissions, helping drivers reduce running costs and cleaning up urban transport,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Hertz’s strategy is to build one of the largest fleets of rental electric vehicles in the world, and believes they are increasingly appealing to younger drivers.

Tourism

UK Tops European Hotspot List for U.S. Travelers

2 years ago

American tourists are flocking to the UK over other European destinations, new data shows.

Post-Covid pent-up demand has collided with the strong dollar, according to the latest figures from travel agency Trip.com, with a 678 percent surge in searches for U.S. to UK flights in the first six months of 2022, compared to the same period last year.

Overall, its inbound transatlantic booking data showed actual bookings from the U.S. to Europe increased 246 percent.

Booking values are up by 37 percent.

Spain came a close second regarding consumer interest, with a 614 percent increase in flight searches from the U.S., followed by Italy (577 percent) and France (491 percent.)

Trip.com’s Americas chief said travelers appeared to be taking advantage of the weaker European currency.

“We believe the increased value of the strong U.S. dollar versus the weaker euro and fall in the value of Pound Sterling means that US travelers have so much more buying power in Europe, which has helped to mark the continent’s return once more as a major destination for the U.S. market,” said Rich Sun, Trip.com Group’s general manager for the Americas.

The difference in value translates to a 10-15 percent discount, compared to the same time last year.

Tour Operators

Rival Tour Operators G Adventures and Intrepid Travel Launch Ad Campaigns on the London Underground

2 years ago

You know travel is back when….arch rival tour operators G Adventures and Intrepid Travel have both unveiled new ad campaigns targeting commuters across London’s transport systems. 

G Adventures’ “When was the last time you felt like this?” campaign, in which the company aims to showcase the joys of small-group adventures, features digital posters in London Underground stations and escalators. The month-long promotion, which is taking place while rail strikes disrupt travel in the United Kingdom, is targeting prospective customers who have returned to their offices.

“With London office workers quickly returning to our capital, that sense of ‘Groundhog Day’ was starting to set in,” said G Adventures Marketing Director Ant Stone.

London’s free newspapers, the Evening Standard and Metro, will also feature weekly content from G Adventures.

Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel has posted ads in London Underground stations and on buses, among other places, featuring the slogan “Travel Is Back For Good.” It’s the company’s first-ever big brand campaign in the UK.