Skift Travel News Blog

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

Business Travel

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

3 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.

Transport

Ex-Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza Thinks Electric Planes Face Huge Commercial Challenges

3 months ago

The future commercial use of electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, or eVTOLs, will be “highly challenging,” according to former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza, who’s a fan of the technology’s potential, but thinks industrial and military applications would take place first.

The Archer Aviation Maker aircraft on its first flight in December 2021.

Baldanza, writing in Forbes about these helicopter-like electric vehicles, said they indeed face tech challenges regarding battery life, the intent to operate in congested areas, a lack of trained pilots, and the costs would preclude eVTOLs becoming a popular transportation alternative anytime soon.

Instead of carrying passengers, these electric flying vehicles would likely first see their initial applicability in carrying cargo and transporting packages, Baldanza wrote.

Transporting equipment during battles may also be an initial preferred use for electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, he wrote.

“Timing of flights likely would not conflict as much with other airspace uses, and utilization can be improved,” Baldanza wrote. “Also, industrial and military uses won’t be especially helpful in only the biggest metro areas, meaning that some issues will be easier to work out. This makes sense, and this eVTOL equipment will compete with smaller drones for some operations.”

Special purpose acquisition company mergers have been a popular funding mechanism for electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, Baldanza wrote, “even though revenue streams may be many years away.”

And Baldanza, who pioneered everything from charging for boarding passes to overhead bin space during his 11 years (2005 to 2016) as CEO of Spirit, knows a few things about revenue streams.

 

Airlines

New U.S. Tourism Strategy Calls for More Touchless Tech

6 months ago

From facial biometrics at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints to visas that don’t require boarding foils, the new U.S. Department of Commerce strategy to boost international arrivals calls for tech improvements to better verify identities and expedite the travel process.

Passport kiosks. Department of Homeland Security. Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dhsgov/16460568027/in/photostream/

Among the recommended tech-oriented actions citied in the strategy are:

  • The Department of Homeland Security should rework its systems to handle digital travel credentials, including touchless tech like facial recognition.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection should deploy facial comparison tech to verify visitor identities.
  • Facial recognition tech should be implemented at TSA security lanes and airline boarding gates.
  • Digital visa processing using foil-less visas for verifying traveler identities should be pursued.
  • The State Department “should explore the direct capture of photographs for passports and visas to standardize image quality for improved comparison against travel documents, reduce the probability of false rejections, and combat fraud,” the Commerce Department stated.

Online Travel

The Complexity Headache That Expedia CEO Peter Kern Inherited in 1 Slide

6 months ago

Ever wonder about the daunting challenge that Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern inherited from predecessors Dara Khosrowshahi and Mark Okertstrom when Kern took the chief executive spot under Barry Diller in 2020?

The pandemic notwithstanding, Expedia Group captured its infrastructure issues in one slide as part of an investor presentation at Cowen 50th Anniversary Technology, Media & Telecom Conference Wednesday.

Many of the Group’s major brands, from Expedia to Hotels.com and Vrbo, had their own product, marketing and tech teams who were working at cross-purposes and competing against each other.

Competition can light a fire under a marketing group, for example, but did it make sense for Expedia and Hotels.com to bid against one another in Google search, and likely drive up costs?

Apparently not.

Elsewhere in the presentation Expedia noted that before it undertook its drive to simplify things it had more than 10 competing brands, five loyalty programs, more than 10 checkout experiences, and “siloed data lakes.”

In the interim, Expedia Group has made a splash consolidating many of these teams, and shedding brands including Egencia, SilverRail, Alice, Classic Vacations, and Expedia Local Expert. Not to mention BodyBuilding.com, which Expedia acquired when it bought Liberty Expedia Holdings.

The goal is “to build a single tech platform,” the presentation said.

We’ve heard Expedia talk of building a solitary tech platform for many years under prior regimes, but it seemingly never happened.

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