Skift Travel News Blog

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

Uncategorized

Trainline Teams With David Hasselhoff in New Celeb-Focused Marketing

1 year ago

Hotel brands are well known for their marketing partnerships with influencers and celebrities, but now one rail booking platform is getting in on the act.

Trainline has decided to team up with legendary actor David Hasselhoff to launch its Chief Conductor Contest.

A grand prize includes a $5,000 travel stipend, a two-night stay in a luxury hotel, and $2,500 in Trainline vouchers to cover rail travel across Europe — in addition to signed merchandise.

The company thinks that with European travel booming, and the U.S. dollar remaining strong, now’s the time to get The Hoff (and his 326,000 Instagram followers) onboard. 

According to data by Trainline, 33 percent of Americans are looking to travel to Europe this summer and 42 percent would be excited to travel through Europe by train to take in the landscape. But even beyond trains as a desired mode of transportation, over half of Americans are somewhat or very likely to plan elements of their vacations based on where their favorite influencers/celebrities visit.

This is where Hasselhoff comes in.

Consumers will also have the opportunity to hear his train travel tips, tricks and itineraries, as well as get a sneak peek into some of the actor’s favorite destinations.

With lots of industry players competing to win bookings, Trainline is just the latest in a handful of travel companies employing celebrity partnerships to promote their brands.

Hilton, for example, collaborated with Paris Hilton on a 10-minute TikTok video. “It’s an experiment and a bit fun,” Chris Silcock, Hilton’s chief commercial officer, said at the Skift Future of Lodging Forum recently. “We’re trying to be more culturally relevant and in the stream. We’re approaching 40 million views of the video and it’s doing well.”

Uncategorized

Strikes to Disrupt French Rail and Air Traffic on Tuesday

1 year ago

Train and air services throughout France will be disrupted on Tuesday by a nationwide strike against pension reforms, French authorities said on Sunday.  

French rail operator SNCF said that it would operate only about half of its usual number of high-speed, domestic trains while one out of four trains on the Eurostar line to London would not operate. France’s civil aviation authority also said it expected delays and disruptions to hit airports although it would activate minimum services guarantees. The agency asked airlines to reduce flights out of Paris’ Orly Airport by 20 percent on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s nationwide strike is the third since the French government unveiled plans in January to raise the pension age by two years to 64. More than 1.2 million people took part in protests around France during the second round of strikes on January 31.

A high-speed train in France
Strikes are expected to disrupt French trains on Tuesday, February 7

Tourism

New EU ID Checks Could See Much Longer Wait Times in 2023

2 years ago

Just when travelers thought that travel disruptions seen earlier this year may be easing, in May 2023 the European Union plans to introduce new fingerprint and biometric checks at external borders for third-country nationals that could lead to significantly longer wait times.

Just in time for the the peak summer travel season in 2023, the European Union’s new Entry-Exit System could add up to two minutes per individual for border processing if things go smoothly, according to some estimates, and there could be additional delays if further action is warranted

Passengers on the Eurostar train prepare to board at London’s St. Pancras station
Passengers on the Eurostar train prepare to board at London’s St. Pancras station.

Various European countries, and the UK said delays could increase two-fold, four-fold, and even seven-fold, as detailed in a story from the Independent.

The UK, which left the European Union on January 31, 2020 under its Brexit policy, will see its citizens face these elongated border checks at the port of Dover, Kent’s Eurotunnel terminal, and at a Eurostar rail hub, St. Pancras International, in London.

The Independent cited port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister estimating last month that UK motorists heading for Europe could see processing times expand by seven.

The European Union said it is making these move to enhance security in entries and exits by third-country nationals.

Contrary to estimates from Poland, Croatia, Finland, and the UK, The European Union said the new system would be hassle free, and end up saving travelers time.

To be determined, however.

Business Travel

Former Kayak Exec Jan Valentin Joins Rail Tech Startup Seatfrog

2 years ago

Former Kayak Europe leader and now travel investor Jan Valentin has joined Seatfrog‘s board of directors, as the rail startup looks to move on from the pandemic by tapping into the trend for more sustainable travel.

The app, which lets train travelers upgrade their ticket at a reduced rate on the original cost by bidding, was named a Skift Top Travel Startup to Watch in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and it lost 97 percent of its revenue.

Now the company wants to put coronavirus behind it with the appointment of Valentin, who used to be Kayak’s managing director and senior vice president in Europe. Valentin also runs ennea capital partners, which in 2020 merged with Howzat Partners to create a new $100 million fund to invest in travel startups and other digital businesses.

Howzat also invested in Seatfrog’s $1.2 million seed round, but Skift understands no extra investment accompanied Valentin’s appointment to the board.

Valentin is also a backer of Comtravo, the German corporate travel agency that was recently bought by TripActions.

Seatfrog said in a statement Valentin joins at a perfect time to support the company’s mission to reimagine the rail experience in a category that has been “trundling along without meaningful innovation for decades.”

“Governments are spending $400 billion plus in Europe to drive modal shift to more sustainable train travel, but it remains a massively under-digitized category, and the customer experience is a mess,” he said.

Seatfrog said it had recorded 1,400 percent growth so far this year, and is expanding internationally.

“We’ve delighted millions of passengers, and driven large revenue uplifts for rail companies well beyond the capabilities of the category’s legacy systems,” added Iain Griffin, CEO and co-founder of Seatfrog.

Travel Booking

Europe’s Multi-Modal Travel Platform Omio Raises $80 Million

2 years ago

Multi-modal transportation platform Omio has raised $80 million, with plans to expand via new partnerships, acquisitions and further growth into the U.S. after Europe-wide expansion.

Omio launched in North America in 2020, but was then hit by the pandemic. However revenue has recovered to more than double pre-pandemic levels, and according to reports founder and CEO Naren Shaam said the U.S. market had “bounced back.”

The Berlin-based travel app, which integrates more than 1,000 transportation providers across trains, buses, ferries, cars, airport transfers as well as flights, may also be able to tap into increased demand for sustainable travel (it claims that one in four customers change their bookings from flights to trains), as well as travel’s holy grail of the connected trip.

Earlier this year Omio helped build a new international website for the UK’s London North Eastern Railway, to make train travel easier to book for overseas customers. The rail company counts 10 countries as its global market, including China, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Italy. The new search and booking engine lets customers in those countries purchase tickets in their own language and currency.

In March it added a partnership with CheckMyBus, a global intercity bus search engine, while it also has collaborations in place with Kayak, Huawei and Portugal’s state-owned railway company.

Omio’s Series E funding came from new investors Lazard Asset Management and Stack Capital Group. Existing investors NEA, Temasek and funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management also contributed.

In 2020 Omio raised $100 million to fund the purchase of other travel companies, after buying Australia-based Rome2Rio in 2019.

Airlines

Star Alliance to Add European Intermodal Partner

2 years ago

The 26-member Star Alliance airline group is planning to add its first non-airline member, CEO Jeffrey Goh said on May 12.

Goh did not want to get ahead of a formal announcement expected in the next several weeks, but he said the partner would be in Europe and would most likely be a railroad. “I will take your money if you wanted to bet on the railways,” he told reporters.

It remains unclear if passengers would be able to redeem travel or earn points on the non-airline partner.

Separately, Goh said Star is launching an alliance-wide, co-branded credit card, an industry first. The card would allow members to earn points to redeem on the Star Alliance frequent-flier program of their choice, he said. The card will launch in an unspecified market in the third quarter of this year. If it is successful, the alliance will expand it to other markets, Goh said.