Skift Travel News Blog

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

Hotels

Accor CEO Advises Young Hotel Entrepreneurs on Scaling Up: WTTC Summit Video

8 months ago

If you want to enter the hospitality sector, start small and get financial support. But be aware that scaling up beyond a certain threshold can be tremendously hard.

That was the advice from the head of one of the world’s largest hotel groups, Accor chairman and group CEO Sébastien Bazin.

“If it’s your dream or passion, just do it and make sure somebody actually helps you financially to do it, Bazin said. “Start with three, four, or five six bedrooms. Be authentic, be sincere, be warm, and welcoming.”

Bazin was speaking on Thursday on a panel at The World Travel & Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Rwanda.

“The difficulty is not to start but to scale,” Bazin said. “To go from one hotel to 12 hotels.”

Accor’s leader said that it’s quite difficult for entrepreneurs to scale up hotel businesses above a certain level, partly because they need to rely on third-party middlemen for distribution to fill their rooms.

“They don’t have the size, and the tendency is to go to the online travel agencies, and they’re going to be eating your lunch,” Bazin said. “Then you have the big gorillas like me knocking on the door, and you’re going to end up working for Accor.”

“Many people have [created regional hotel groups] but could not grow them further,” Bazin said. “It’s a tough business in which you have some tough big guys who really don’t like you to grow that much.”

Advice to Hoteliers, Too

Bazin was also asked about what was something he “hates” about the hotel industry from the personal perspective of being a traveler. He said it was the trouble the hotel sector had in giving its young employees the resources, training, and support they need to thrive in their front-line and behind-the-scenes jobs.

“I was staying at a hotel, and this morning I went to check out, and there was a very young, nice gentleman,” Bazin said. “He must have been 22 or 23 years old — impeccably dressed. And he was in a total panic.”

“He just didn’t have the proper training,” Bazin said. “I don’t like it when people in front of you lose their self-esteem because they cannot operate the way they should operate, and it’s not their fault.”

“We as industry leaders should be better equipping and training our people and giving them what expertise they need,” Bazin said. “Our industry will be stronger if we have hundreds of thousands of different young people who probably never went to college, and we give them chances in life.”

Tourism

Movie Star Ed Norton Is Launching a Luxury Eco-Camp in Kenya With Former Six Senses President

2 years ago

Movie actor Ed Norton is working with the former president of Six Senses on developing a new eco-resort in Kenya.

“There’s going to be an announcement in the spring, about a new, global luxury brand,” he revealed on stage at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, held in Saudi Arabia this week.

“A good friend of mine who ran Six Senses from its inception, up to when InterContinental Group bought it, and my friends at the Discovery Land Development Corporation, they have a big announcement in the spring. And we’re working with them to build state-of-the-art sustainable camps in Kenya, that will come over the next couple of years.”

According to reports, Bernhard Bohnenberger, former president of Six Senses and now CEO of Discover Collection, has worked with Norton on selecting three safari lodges and one beach resort.

Norton shared the news while speaking with Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, about which resorts were taking sustainability seriously.

He revealed that the camps in Kenya would fully electrified and features electric vehicles, while water would be sustainably sourced and only locals would be employed. Norton said he wanted the camps to act as a model for what can be done.

The “Fight Club” actor, who has spent many years as an environmental activist and social entrepreneur, also acts as ambassador to the Kenya Tourism Board.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the Six Senses founder was involved. This updated version includes a report on Bohnenberger.

Tourism

U.S. Senior Official Defends Government’s Lack of a Tourism Agency

2 years ago

A senior U.S. official found himself explaining to world leaders how tourism works within the U.S. government.

Brand USA Global Marketplace Sponsor Pavilion
One part of Brand USA’s new “global marketplace” where sponsors can interact with customers. Source: Brand USA.

While the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, held in Saudi Arabia this week, welcomed tourism ministers from around the world, one speaker defended his country’s political approach.

Speaking during the “Reducing the Footprint of Travel & Tourism” panel, Mark Keam, deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism Industry, International Trade Administration, was asked if the country would benefit from a cabinet level specific tourism/culture person?

“The U.S doesn’t have a tourism minister,” Keam replied. “I have the role as deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism in the United States government, which is the functional equivalent of the ministry of tourism, but we don’t call it that, because in the U.S. we don’t have ministries.”

The assistant secretary was quizzed following an earlier remark by a panelist during the summit that the U.S. was “difficult to engage” with.

“But the reason I think we have it in somewhat better shape is that we’re part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is a government and private sector-facing agency,” Keam continued. “But we’re also part of the International Trade Administration, which is about bringing international travelers into the U.S. to raise money.”

Earlier in the day, Greg O’Hara, founder and senior managing director at travel investor Certares, was probed by CNN’s Richard Quest on why the U.S. tourism industry, which was “so crucial,” punches at a relatively low weight when ministers sit around cabinet tables.

“They don’t even have a tourism minster. They don’t have a secretary of tourism in the United States. It’s difficult to find people to talk to,” O’Hara replied. “Other people have tourism ministries, but they’re not allocated capital.”

But speaking later, Keam said that travel and tourism was discussed at the highest level.

“Having different boxes within the government is less important than what the functionality is,” the assistant secretary said. “From my perspective, the fact we are talking about travel and tourism at the highest level in our government is important enough. Frankly, the travel and tourism industry is such a big part in the U.S., at 2.9 percent of our gross domestic product, that across the board we hire so many people. It doesn’t matter which box of the agencies you’re in.”

The U.S. does have Brand USA, a public-private partnership to promote international visitation, which was founded in 2010 when there was no such promotional body on a national level. 

Tourism

Europe Urgently Needs to Fill 1.2 Million Travel and Tourism Job Vacancies

2 years ago

The European Union’s travel and tourism sector recovery is at risk unless 1.2 million jobs are filled, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council and European Travel Commission.

Vacancies are likely to remain unfilled during the busy summer period, with travel agencies predicted to be the worst hit with a 30 percent shortfall of workers.

Airlines and hotels are likely to suffer one in five unfilled vacancies, representing 21 percent and 22 percent staff shortage respectively.

“Europe showed one of the strongest recoveries in 2021, ahead of the global average. However, current shortages of labor can delay this trend and put additional pressure on an already embattled sector,” said Julia Simpson, council president and CEO, in a statement.

In 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak, 1.7 million direct jobs were lost, they claimed. In 2021, when governments began to ease travel restrictions, the sector’s direct contribution to the European Union’s economy recovered by 30.4 percent and recovered 571,000 jobs.

This year, the council projects the sector’s recovery will continue to accelerate and almost reach pre-pandemic levels with an expected 32.9 percent increase in its direct contribution to the union’s economy.

The pair have identified six measures that governments and the private sector can implement to address the issue:

  1. Facilitate labour mobility within countries and across borders and strengthen collaboration at all levels, providing visas and work permits
  2. Enable flexible and remote working where feasible — particularly if travel restrictions still prevent workers from moving freely across borders
  3. Ensure decent work, provide social safety nets and highlight career growth opportunities — with work that is safe, fair, productive, and meaningful — to reinforce the attractiveness of the sector as a career choice and retain new talent
  4. Upskill and reskill talent and offer comprehensive training as well as create — to equip the workforce with new and improved skills
  5. Create and promote education and apprenticeships — with effective policies, and public-private collaboration, that support educational programs and apprentice-based training
  6. Adopt innovative technological and digital solutions to improve daily operations, as well as mobility and border security to ensure safe and seamless travel and an enhanced customer experience.

“Governments and the private sector need to come together to provide the best opportunities for people looking for the great career opportunities that the travel sector offers,” Simpson added.

Tour Operators

Still Too Much Sustainability Rhetoric From Travel Companies, Says Intrepid Chairman

2 years ago

The chairman and co-founder of Intrepid Travel has said there was too much “rhetorical flourish” from travel companies when it comes to discussing sustainability.

Speaking at the Skift Sustainable Tourism Summit on Wednesday, Darrell Wade bemoaned how organizations were touting a “build back better” ethos, while failing to take action.

“It’s disappointing, embedded into marketing, or even worse the boardroom,” he said during the online event.

“Half of the companies, probably more, will have done nothing. At the World Travel & Tourism Council, a good number of companies are talking the right way, and committing, but not enough are putting the rubber on the road.”

While some companies had managed to go beyond what he described rhetorical flourish, he said travel companies needed to ensure there was”company engagement” from the top, and they needed to commit measurable action, including science based targets. “You need to sign up to have that line in the sand,” Wade told moderator Rafat Ali, Skift CEO and co-founder.

“Sustainability is not easy, it’s heavy lifting. Even one aspect like climate change, to work out a pathway to zero emissions, is a lot of work,” he added.

Tour operators like Intrepid are at the forefront of the sustainability movement, Wade argued, because they are, in a physical sense, on the ground and dealing with locals, going face to face with communities.

“We’re often in remote areas, and that’s one of the reasons we go there,” he said. “It takes something climate change, and not a lot of imagination, to realize destinations will be impacted by climate change, before the New Yorks and Shanghais of the word,”

And overall he said that tour operators, including Intrepid, still have a long way to go, as they still emit a lot of carbon emissions.

By failing to take action, operators could end up alienating a public who are demonstrating intent to travel greener. Travel could become the new oil, Wade suggested, if tourists started saying “I’m not going to get in a plane.”

“It’s the role of every CEO, and staff member to start banging the drum,” he added.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described Wade as CEO.