Skift Travel News Blog

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

Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines Sets February Date for Alaska Merger Vote

6 months ago

Hawaiian Airlines shareholders will vote in February on Alaska Airlines’ proposed $1.9 billion takeover of the carrier.

Shareholders are set to vote on February 16 on merger plan that would see them receive $18 for each share in Honolulu-based Hawaiian, according to a securities filing on Tuesday. The purchase price is a 270% premium over the carrier’s share price on December 1, the last trading day before the deal was unveiled on December 3.

A Hawaiian Airbus A330 at San Diego Airport
(San Diego International Airport/Flickr)

Under the terms of the deal, Alaska plans merge with Hawaiian but — in a rare move for a U.S. airline — continue to operate both brands. The merged carrier would be based in Seattle and led by Alaska CEO Ben Minicucci.

Approval by Hawaiian shareholders is a key step towards finalizing the merger. However, the deal still must secure antitrust and U.S. Department of Transportation approval before it can close. Both of those are big questions given the Biden Administration’s animosity towards further consolidation in the airline industry; for example, the Biden Justice Department sued to block the merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines.

Alaska and Hawaiian hope to close their merger within 12-18 months, or by June 2025.

Travel Technology

Travel Counsellors Acquires Travel Sales Platform Planisto

6 months ago

Travel Counsellors, a UK-based tech platform for travel agents, has acquired Planisto, a similar company that specializes in trip planning and booking. 

Terms and acquisition price were not disclosed. 

Travel Counsellors provides a platform that home-based leisure and corporate travel agents can use for trip planning and booking. Users who make bookings through the platform earn 60% of the profit, while the company gets 40%, according to the website. 

The company said it has more than 1,900 agents worldwide. 

Belgium-based Planisto offers travel sellers with tools to plan trips, create itineraries, and book travel on behalf of clients. The platform was established by travel tech development company EURAM.

Three of Planisto’s developers are also joining the Travel Counsellors team, the buyer said.

The acquisition is part of the company’s plan to invest £15 million in tech and AI this year, according to a post on Linkedin by Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne.

Travel Counsellors made its first acquisition in May 2023 when it bought UK-based Holidaysplease, a similar tech platform for travel agents. 

Private equity firm Vitruvian Partners acquired Travel Counsellors in 2018.

Travel Technology

Tripla Expands Into Taiwan Via Surehigh Acquisition

6 months ago

Tripla, which provides a booking engine to hotels in Japan and Southeast Asia, has acquired a hotel tech company in Taiwan.

Tokyo-based Tripla said it acquired 91% of Surehigh, which provides more than 1,200 Taiwanese hotels with a reservation engine and channel manager. The other 9% of the company was acquired by a venture capital firm, according to Tripla spokesperson.

Surehigh is now a subsidiary of Tripla.

That brings Tripla’s client base to nearly 6,600 hotels, the company said. 

Besides the reservation system, Tripla offers an AI ​​chatbot for hotels as well as marketing automation services. 

The company in September acquired a majority stake in BookandLink, which provides software to help hotels track and manage sales that take place through third-party distribution channels. 

Tripla has said its goal is to create a more comprehensive booking and distribution platform for hoteliers, as well as expand business to Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia. The plan is to fully integrate all the technologies in the next few years and release new products. 

Tripla started trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in November 2022 with an initial public offering of $5.6 million (¥823.2 million). The company’s stock is down over 31% year to date.

Online Travel

India’s TBO Acquires Booking Platform Jumbonline

6 months ago

TBO has acquired Jumbonline, an online booking system by Jump Tours Group. TBO Co-Founder Gaurav Bhatnagar made the announcement on LinkedIn on Monday. Based in India, TBO.com is a travel distribution platform.

Jumbonline is a Spain-headquartered distribution platform for wholesalers and tour operators. Under the acquisition, TBO will have access to Jumbonline’s content, technology, clients, and talent, said Bhatnagar.

“This acquisition gives us access to great supply across Europe, the Caribbean, and North Africa amongst other destinations,” said Bhatnagar. “We also get access to Jumbo’s extensive client portfolio across Europe.”

Earlier this year, TBO fully acquired Switzerland-based BookaBed, a business-to-business accommodation wholesaler. The acquisition deepened TBO’s footprint in Ireland and the UK, the company told Skift.

Travel Technology

RoomRaccoon Acquires Similar Hotel Tech System iHotelligence

7 months ago

RoomRaccoon, a cloud-based hotel tech system, said this week that it is expanding its presence in Ireland via acquisition.

Netherlands-based RoomRaccoon bought iHotelligence, a similar company based in Dublin.

Terms were not disclosed.

RoomRaccoon’s core products include a property management system, booking engine, channel manager, and payments system geared toward independent hotels with between 10 and 100 rooms. The company has more than 2,000 hotel clients with more than 25,000 rooms. 

Founded in 2012, iHotelligence products include an on-site property management system, booking engine, and channel manager. Clients include boutique hotels and independent hotels.

The deal gives clients of iHotelligence access to a more advanced cloud-based platform, the partners said. That includes access to add-ons, such as more dynamic pricing tools, automated upsell capabilities, housekeeping management, and more. 

RoomRaccoon said it remains financially independent since it was founded in 2017.

RoomRaccoon plans to expand business in Europe and North America.

Short-Term Rentals

Numa Buys Dutch Rival YAYS Group

7 months ago

Berlin-based hospitality brand Numa Group has acquired Dutch aparthotels operator YAYS Group from Proprium Capital Partners. The companies did not disclose details of the deal. 

But the deal was likely funded with Numa’s latest fundraising round in September. Numa raised $59 million and said the funds will be used for expansion across Europe. 

Together the combined entity holds over 5,200 units. 

YAYS Group operated 489 units across the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, which will now be added to Numa’s portfolio. YAYS Group was taken over by Proprium Capital Partners in 2017. 

Numa was founded in 2019 by Christian Gaiser, Dimitri Chandogin, Gerhard Maringer, and Inga Laudiero. Gaiser’s isn’t new to hospitality — growing up in a family hotel in the Black Forest in Germany. Meanwhile the other co-founders come from financial services.

Its portfolio consists of 4,500 units, in ten countries and across 28 major European cities including Berlin, Munich, Rome, Milan, Barcelona and Paris. Its latest addition being 24 units in two properties in Madrid. 

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s AI Acquisition Paid Partially in Stock Valued Above $100 Million

7 months ago

Airbnb made public filings on Tuesday showing that its acquisition of AI company GamePlanner.AI was paid partially with stock valued at about $104.5 million. 

The filings said that the company is offering 877,062 shares and the two largest recipients were listed as Adam Cheyer (337,652 shares) and Siamak Hodjat (245,565). 

Cheyer and Hodjat are the co-founders of GamePlanner.AI, which Airbnb said on Tuesday that it had acquired for an undisclosed price. 

Other stock recipients included several venture capital funds: B Capital, Golden Circle Ventures, a fund owned by Hong Kong businesswoman Solina Chau Hoi Shue, and a trust related to venture capitalist Gary Morgenthaler, among others.

One filing referenced $119.15 as the last reported stock stock price on November 13, which would make the total value of the shares $104.5 million.

Citing sources familiar with the deal, CNBC reported that the total value of the GamePlanner.ai acquisition was nearly $200 million. Airbnb stock is up 3% over the last day and up 36% year to date.

Hotels

India’s Ambuja Neotia Acquires Boutique Hotel Group Tree of Life

8 months ago

Ambuja Neotia, a real-estate developer and operator in Kolkata, has bought Tree of Life Resorts and Hotels, a collection of 14 boutique hotels across India with about 200 rooms that Skift recently profiled.

The companies didn’t disclose the price or terms of the deal.

Tree of Life, based in Gurugram, has seen quick growth from five resorts pre-pandemic to 14 now.

Ambuja Neotia, based in Kolkata, began as a real estate developer but has since become a small conglomerate with multiple interests. In the hospitality space, it is part of a few hotel ventures with about 700 rooms in total in Eastern India, such as The Ffort Raichak and Swissotel Kolkata Neotia Vista (managed by Accor). It also manages about a half dozen properties for Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL).

Himmat Anand had led the Tree of Life for about 15 years. Ambuja Neotia has named Vinoth Ram as the new CEO.

“The Tree of Life brand architecture is perfectly poised to cater to the discernible shift in leisure travel trends, said CEO Vinoth Ram. “My primary objective is to expand the brand’s presence throughout this vast and diverse country, providing an array of unique and exceptional experiences.”

Hotels

Choice Hotels Claims Wyndham Merger Would Have ‘Clear Path to Completion’

8 months ago

Choice Hotels on Wednesday called on Wyndham Hotels & Resorts to return to merger talks while publicly responding to concerns Wyndham executives had raised about “execution risk” — including questions about regulatory scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Wyndham issued a statement saying its board of directors remains confident that its “standalone growth prospects offer superior, risk-adjusted returns. It once again rejected the hostile merger, which would value Wyndham at $7.8 billion (plus debt),

One issue in dispute is whether U.S. antitrust watchdogs would balk at consolidation. Choice Hotels has a 16% share of the branded U.S. economy hotel market, while Wyndham has 36%, the FT reported.

Executives at Choice said they had received advice that a merger would receive regulatory approval. (Choice is paying for legal advice from Willkie Farr & Gallagher.)

“Independent hotels comprise nearly two-thirds of the economy segment and close to 40% of the midscale segment,” said Choice Hotels.

On Wednesday, data from CoStar’s STR came up with a somewhat different figure, saying that “half of U.S. economy-class hotel rooms are unbranded.”

Choice Hotels executives also noted that major hotel groups such as Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have this year announced new brands to compete in the premium economy and midscale segments. This fresh rivalry would add to the competitive landscape already featuring Best Western, Extended Stay America, G6 (Motel 6), Oyo, Red Roof Inn, and Sonesta.

Choice Hotels’ comments came on the same afternoon that Wyndham executives issued a release reiterating their disinterest in talks. It also came a day ahead of Wyndham’s earnings call.

Airlines

Portugal to Sell Majority Stake in National Airline TAP

9 months ago

Portugal’s Finance Minister Fernando Medina kicked off the long-awaited sale of TAP Air Portugal Thursday with the announcement that the government would sell a 51% stake in the state-owned airline to the highest bidder.

In addition to monetary value, the Portuguese government seeks an investor that wants to grow TAP and its Lisbon hub, guarantee jobs, and bring additional flights to secondary airports in the country, including Porto. The government did not specify how much it values TAP at; Portugal nationalized the airline as part of its Covid aid package to the carrier during the pandemic.

“We want large-scale investors from the aeronautical sector, alone or in consortia headed by them, that are aligned with our strategic goals,” Medina said. “We do not seek to attract pure investments of a financial nature that are looking to get into TAP to then sell it or sell parts of it and we wish to reiterate TAP’s strategic contribution to the country.”

A TAP Air Portugal plane. (Reuters)

Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group — owner of British Airways, Iberia, and other airlines — and the Lufthansa Group have all expressed interest in TAP. The Portuguese airline’s Lisbon hub is the ideally located for Europe-Latin America connections, as well as for connectivity to Africa. The hub is seen as a sought-after prize among the large European airline group’s as they jockey for an ever greater share of the market.

“TAP has a very strong position geographically at the southernmost point in Europe towards South America, and they do have a very strong network to Brazil with 11 cities online nonstop out of Lisbon,” Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith said in May. “So it’s very interesting, and could be potentially eventually accretive to our bottom line performance.”

Portugal will first select advisors for the sale first with the aim to finalize the selection criteria by the end of the year, Medina. Talks with interested buyers will also begin but, based on the timeline he outlined, a deal is unlikely until sometime in 2024.