Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Kayak and OpenTable Laid Off 80 Employees

8 months ago

Kayak and OpenTable, two Booking Holdings brands, laid off 80 employees, Skift has learned.

A screen grab from Kayak’s Sorry, Winston commercial. Source: Kayak

A spokesperson said that was less than 5% of their workforce.

“Like many other companies, we needed to make some difficult staffing changes as we sharpen our priorities,” the spokesperson said. “We continue to have ambitious plans for our meta brands and are doubling down on our core product focus.”

The employees affected were in the brands’ travel and shared services teams, the company said.

Kayak has several metasearch, or comparison shopping, brands, including Kayak, Momondo and Hotelscombined, among others. OpenTable is Bookings’ dining reservations platform.

Food and Drink

IDEAS: Putting Surprise and Storytelling at the Center of ‘Dinner’ in Dubai

1 year ago

‘Dinner’ by Heston Blumenthal, which recently opened in Dubai at Atlantis The Royal, offers guests a “relaxed” dining experience driven by spectacle and storytelling. As consumer expectations rise, chefs are constantly upping the ante for not just their cuisine, but also the dining experience in order to stand out to guests.

The menu explores “the tastes and flavors of Britain dating back as far as the 13th century, from the farmers’ table to the royal courts of England,” according to the restaurant. Similar to the elaborate feasts of middle ages in Britain, Blumenthal uses the element of surprise to delight and entertain guests.

Credit: Atlantis The Royal/Dinner Dubai

As guests enter, a giant pineapple rotisserie ‘escapement’ (clock) greets diners and features an intricate spit pulley system that also turns the roasting fruit. It was based on a 16th century clockwork design used for the British Royal Court. “Pineapples, historically, were unbelievably expensive, they were seen as unbelievable luxury… and so ours will signify adventure, exploration and discovery,” Blumenthal notes.

Dinner’s Meat Fruit is an example of edible history that employs surprise to turn a traditional medieval dish from the 1500’s called Pome Dorres, or “apples of gold,” into contemporary cuisine. One of the Blumenthal’s most iconic dishes, it is essentially chicken liver parfait disguised as a mandarin, and requires three cooks to work five hours every day to construct. No one ever said fine-dining was easy.

Credit: Atlantis The Royal/Dinner Dubai

The restaurant has already received a Michelin Star “Special Award”, which was also bestowed to two other restaurants at Dubai’s Atlantis The Royal.

At the Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking for the projects defining the future of hotels and the guest experience, including in-person experiences and activations that utilize a physical environment to impact an end user. 

If you have an exciting project to share, head over to the Skift IDEA Awards and submit your entry today.


Leisure and Hospitality Job Growth Slowed in April

1 year ago

The leisure and hospitality sector was among the largest job gainers in the U.S. in April, but the 31,000 jobs it added amounted to a deceleration from March, when it added 40,000 positions to the workforce.

Latelier restaurant florida
Credit: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami

The vast majority of the additions in April were not in hotels, but in food service and drinking establishments, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics‘ monthly jobs report Friday.

“The average wage in the industry now averages $20 an hour, well above minimum wage — a key indicator that the H-2B program, on which many travel businesses rely, does not take jobs from U.S. workers,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of Public Affairs and Policy, U.S. Travel Association. 

Leisure and hospitality, which employed 2.4 percent fewer workers in the U.S. in April than it did in pre-pandemic February 2020, grew at a considerably faster pace during the prior six months when it added 73,000 jobs per month on average.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported all of these figures in its April jobs report on Friday.

There were 16.54 million people employed in leisure and hospitality in April. The unemployment rate in the sector was 5 percent, higher than the the 3.4 percent nationally for non-farm employees.

The air transportation sector in the U.S. added a modest 3,300 jobs, bringing its ranks to 537,400, the report found.

Travel arrangement and reservations services boosted its workforce by 800 jobs, bringing the entire roster of travel agents and similar roles to 179,400.

Travel arrangement and reservation services increased by 10,400 over the previous 12 months, and increased from 178,600 in March 2023 to 179,400 in April 2023.  

Skift’s Dennis Schaal contributed to this report.

Travel Technology

UK Hotel Software Operator Guestline Acquires Newbridge to Expand Into Restaurants

2 years ago

A UK-based hotel operations software platform is expanding offerings for restaurants through an acquisition. 

Guestline announced Tuesday that it has acquired UK-based Newbridge Software, a company that offers an electronic point of sale (ePOS) platform for bars and restaurants. Newbridge will operate as a division of the Guestline Group.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Guestline’s existing software platform covers a range of operations and payments for hotels across Europe and Asia, the company said. The company was founded in 1991. 

Founded in 2016, Newbridge has worked with standalone and group operators across the UK. The software includes real-time revenue and profit reporting, and it has features that enable table ordering, rewards programs and promotions.  

The Newbridge software will be fully integrated into the Guestline system, giving existing clients access to the ePOS software. The Newbridge software will also be offered as a standalone service, continuing to serve independent bars and restaurants

Andrew McGregor, CEO of Guestline, said in a statement that enhancing ePOS capabilities has been part of the company’s strategic focus. 

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Begins Letting U.S. and Canadian Hotels and Restaurants Self-Identify as Woman- Or Black-Owned and More

2 years ago

Tripadvisor began letting some hotels in the U.S. and Canada self-identify in their business listings if they are woman-owned, Black-owned, or Asian-owned, for example.

Other categories include Disability-owned, Hispanic/Latinx-owned, Indigenous-owned, LGBTQIA+-owned, and Veteran-owned.

Tripadvisor doesn’t verify whether indeed the business is at least 51 percent owned — which is the criteria — by that group. That’s similar to its approach to user reviews.

Beach Hill Smokehouse in Toronto self-identifies as Black-owned. Source: Tripadvisor.

Businesses must have claimed their listing, can self-identify in more than one category, and then that self-identification would be noted under the listings details in both the Tripadvisor website and app, Tripadvisor said. Tripadvisor sees itself as a platform, which enables people to make judgments based on the “wisdom of the crowds,” so to speak.

The new woman-owned or veteran-owned designations, for example, specify that the restaurant or hotel identifies themselves in this manner.

Tripadvisor has been testing the new feature, and stated that “hundreds” of businesses already have taken advantage of it. It plans to roll out the feature more broadly.

The company said its intent was “to make its platform more inclusive of the diverse communities using its influential website and app.” The hope is that travelers may gravitate toward businesses that are woman-owned or Asian-owned if that is their inclination.

Online Travel

Booking Holdings Takes Restaurant Competition to Asia-Pacific With Inline Investment

2 years ago

Booking Holdings’ OpenTable dining reservations platform, which is strongest in the U.S., and Inline Group, with strength in Asia-Pacific, have entered into a strategic partnership where their customers will be able to reserve tables in the establishments of their respective restaurant partners.

In tandem with the strategic partnership, Booking Holdings made an investment in Inline Group. The companies did not announcement the amount.

A file photo of Tony Fernandes, CEO of Capital A, at his first Santan restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: AirAsia Group

Inline powers dining reservations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and the U.S., according to its website.

“Inline has quickly built a leadership position in select markets in Asia and is growing throughout the region,” Debby Soo, OpenTable CEO, said in a statement. “We’re delighted to partner with them as we expand OpenTable’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In Booking Holdings’ strongest region, Europe, Tripadvisor’s TheFork is the strongest player in dining reservations. So Booking is investing apparently where it sees the best opportunity — Asia-Pacific.


Spain to Ease Visa Rules to Find Workers to Clean Hotel Rooms

2 years ago

Spain’s economy was among the worst hit in Europe during the pandemic, and now the government plans to make it easier for foreigners to obtain work visas so they can fill tourism-related jobs, including cleaning hotel rooms and waiting on tables in restaurants.

canary islands source reuters
Waiter Yamilca from Cuba attends tourists in a terrace of an almost empty restaurant Celso at La Caleta beach in Adeje, in the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain March 5, 2020. Reuters/Sergio Perez

“We are evaluating different aspects of the migration law and where there is room to improve it … in order to address bottlenecks in Spain’s labor market,” Social Security and Migration Minister Jose Luis Escriva said Friday, Reuters reported.

The government doesn’t intend to merely target tourism with the work visa easing, but it was among the sectors the minister cited, along with tech, agriculture, and construction.

Among the plans is to permit some 50,000 students in the country from outside the European Union to combine their studies with working.

Spain projected earlier that its international arrivals would reach around 80 percent of pre-Covid numbers by June 2022.