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Skift Travel News Blog

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


Marriott Bonvoy Launches Miami App-Based City Tour

9 months ago

Marriott Bonvoy has launched a self-paced walking tour, Capture the City Miami, curated in partnership with Greater Miami and Miami Beach and local fashion blogger Daniela Ramirez

Available as a mobile app, the tour showcases an interactive map with tips and content created by Ramirez, aka @nany.

Developed as part of the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty program, the walking tour can be purchased and downloaded according to the size of the group, ranging in price from $59 for 1 to 4 guests up to $159 for 9 to 12 guests. Additionally, it includes “$200 in perks” per person “to experience the best food, photo opportunities, and culture” across the city’s South Beach, Design District, Wynwood, and Little Havana neighborhoods. 

Some of the experiences included on the city tour:    

  • Browse Baccarat’s beautiful and colorful crystal and enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne at the BBar and Lounge.
  • The Museum of Graffiti in Wynwood, featuring indoor and outdoor exhibitions, with colorful murals by artists from around the globe, with a 25% discount on ticket price.
  • Havana 1957, an authentic Cuban restaurant on Ocean Drive for a complimentary traditional mojito with the purchase of an entree.

The tour is meant to give guests “another way to experience the power of travel,” according to a Marriott Bonvoy spokesperson who confirmed there are no plans to roll out similar standalone app experiences for any other popular cities at this point. 

Marriott Bonvoy has the most hotel loyalty program members, at about 180 million. The program has looked to create immediately accessible experiences for its members, having recently launched its Marriott Bonvoy One Point Moments in June.


IDEAS: voco hotels Debuts New ‘Find Your Flock’ Birdwatching Package

9 months ago

voco hotels, part of the IHG Hotels & Resorts Group, has debuted a new birdwatching package in the U.S. and Singapore.

Credit: voco hotels

A study from Scientific Reports found that seeing or hearing birds was associated with an improvement of mental well-being for up to eight hours, so the new package has been designed to provide travelers with ‘a relaxing, mindful activity’ that encourages ‘me time’.

Guests who book the ‘Find Your Flock’ package will be able to borrow voco-branded binoculars – with additional children’s binoculars available on request – and will also be given an eco-friendly packet of birdseed to take on their birdwatching journey.

The limited time experience is available to book now until September 30, with stays taking place in October 2023.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Tour Operators

TUI Adds Juniper Travel as New Experiences Distribution Partner

10 months ago

TUI, one of Europe’s leading tour operator groups, has extended its tours and activities distribution through Juniper Travel Technology.

Juniper, a travel tech company offering travel booking and management solutions, will integrate TUI’s portfolio of 88,000 excursions, activities, and attraction tickets in 100 countries, making it available for its clients of 270 travel and tourism companies.

The integration with Juniper Travel will “reach new customers based on their needs through seamless integration”, said Nishank Gopalkrishnan, chief business officer of TUI Musement. It expands TUI’s business to business strategy, both with companies in TUI’s established source markets such as the United Kingdom and Germany, and also with Juniper partners in southern Europe and LATAM as new markets for TUI.

TUI Musement reported a 33% increase in sales in the group’s third-quarter financial results. In 2022, TUI sold over seven million experiences.

Juan Mateos, Juniper Travel general manager, said its clients would have “frictionless access” to TUI’s experiences, initially available as a standalone catalog. In the future, it will be part of Juniper’s packaging and call center modules.

Tour Operators

Smartbox Group Acquires Nordic Experiences Platform Truestory

10 months ago

European-based experience gift platform Smartbox Group has acquired the Scandinavian experiences platform Truestory.

Lasse Kjær, founder of Truestory, announced the acquisition in a LinkedIn post, stating the Nordic-centred experiences platform, with some “1,000 live experiences from more than 600 hosts”, now had a “new owner who wants to invest in Truestory to redeem the long-term potential of the business.”

Skift reached out to Kjær for specific details on the sale, but he stated he was “unable to share the value of the acquisition right now.”

Truestory would continue to operate under the same brand as the site’s users know it, specifically strengthening Smartbox Group’s position in the Nordic countries of Norway and Sweden, René Drewsen, Cluster Director Nordic at Smartbox Group, said in a statement.

Founded in 2003, the Smartbox Group is present in nine European countries and claims it sells 7 million experience gifts worth an estimated $547 million annually. The company works with “40,000 European partners, distributing through 18,000 retail stores, supermarkets, websites, and online retailers.”

Tour Operators

Regiondo Merges with Rezdy and Checkfront

10 months ago

Regiondo, Checkfront, and Rezdy – three prominent players in the tours and activities reservations tech sector – have joined forces. Skift first reported the intended merger.

Oliver Nützel, CEO of Regiondo, said he looked forward to what it would mean to the industry going forward as the three companies look to their blended regional expertise to offer a global booking and reservations management solution for the tours and activities sector.

Munich-based Regiondo is seen as a leading restech company in Europe with over 6,000 customers across key markets in Germany, France, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Rezdy, an Australian firm, stands out for its Asia-Pacific market strength, while Canada’s Checkfront brings its presence in North America into the fold. 

Their alliance will look to accelerate the digitization of the tours and activities sector, which remains fragmented and largely offline. Skift Research recently outlined that, unlike other verticals in the travel industry, the booking of tours, activities & experiences is still predominantly done offline – 70% offline, versus 48% offline for hotels, 26% for airlines, and only 12% for short-term rentals.

Tour Operators

UK’s Revolut Adds Viator Experiences

10 months ago

The UK-based fintech app Revolut, which claims 30 million users, has added a in-app experiences marketplace, in partnership with Tripadvisor’s Viator.

The app now features some 300,000 tours, activities, and attractions, offering users options like “traversing the rocky Agafay Desert on camelback or taking a relaxing dip in Budapest’s Széchenyi Thermal Baths.”

The Revolut experiences marketplace, available to its UK and Europe customers, offers split bills for group trips, no booking fee, and discounts on experiences up to 10% depending on the user’s Revolut plan. 

The addition of tours and activities follows the app’s initial launch of selling accommodation in 2021 in a move described as wanting to become a Super App by offering all travel-related products. The app’s other travel products include holiday home rentals, hotels, travel insurance, and currency exchange. Revolut said it also wants to add flights and car rental bookings eventually. 

Revolut stated its customers make 400 million transactions a month, with its year-on-year data for May 2023 showing UK spending on tourist attractions was up by 9%. 


IDEAS: Inuit Heritage Center to Drive Cultural Awareness in Canadian Arctic Destination

11 months ago

Danish architecture firm Dorte Mandrup has been announced as the winner of an international competition to design the Nunavut Intuit Heritage Centre in Nunavut, Canada.

Credit: MIR

The center, which is due to be completed in 2027, both blends into the tundra landscape and also offers functional protection from its arctic environment. It aims to provide a place for individuals to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Inuit culture and traditions through objects and interactive experiences.

We recently sat down with Geetika Argarwal, CEO & Founder of Vacation With An Artist, for the latest episode of the Skift Ideas Podcast, in which we discussed the value of integrating community led experiences within tourism. You can listen here.

Credit: Dorte Mandrup

Having worked with Architect of Record Guy Architects, LEES+Associates, Adjeleian Allen Rubeli, EXP, Pageau Morel, Altus Group, as well as indigenous consultants Kirt Ejesiak and Alexander Flaherty, Dorte Mandrup has developed a design that draws ‘inspiration from the patterns formed in snowdrifts by the prevailing wind, kalutoqaniq, which has long served as a natural wayfinding system for Inuit.’

Credit: MIR

The building will nestle seamlessly into the rocky hillside overlooking Iqaluit, with the roof set to be covered in rock and turf, blurring the lines between the building and the surrounding terrain.

Alongside the exhibition spaces, the center will also feature a café, workshop area, hostel, and offices, all linked to outdoor spaces that will provide opportunities for engaging in traditional practices, including carving, kayak building and tool making. 

Credit: Dorte-Mandrup

“The Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre is an extraordinary project that we are very proud and humbled to have been selected to be part of. Working within this context requires both extreme sensitivity and consideration of landscape and its cultural significance. The community has been working tirelessly for a long time to establish a place for Inuit to collect precious heritage and share unique, specialized knowledge that remains imperative for future generations and is in severe risk of vanishing. We are looking very much forward to listen, learn, and be the link between thought and form,” says Founder and Creative Director, Dorte Mandrup.

At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: Iglucraft Glamping Pods Seamlessly Blend into Nature

12 months ago

Iglucraft, an Estonia-based company, creates a range of handcrafted timber cabins and saunas that seamlessly blend into their natural surroundings.

Credit: Iglucraft

The nomadic pods – which are fully customizable and come with a range of amenities – are created using natural materials and feature organic forms, helping users to find ‘a more natural way of being than the everyday life in perfectly linear cityscapes’.

With famous clients including David Beckham and Gordon Ramsey, the pods are available to order online.

Credit: Iglucraft

At the Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking for the innovative projects that are defining the future of guest experience.

If you have an exciting project to share, head to the Skift IDEA Awards today and start your submission. The final deadline for entries is June 20, 2023.


IDEAS: dnata Looks to Robotics for the Future of Airline Catering

12 months ago

At the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) in Hamburg this week, dnata – one of the world’s largest air services providers – offered attendees a glimpse into the future of its catering capabilities with a demonstration of its new AI-powered cooking robot.

Credit: dnata/Moley Robotics

Developed by Moley Robotics, the cooking-machine utilizes AI technology to follow pre-recorded chef instructions, and is equipped with ‘multiple sensors and machine learning capabilities, enabling it to precisely measure ingredients and execute complex cooking techniques’.

You can take a look at one of Moley Robotics’ cooking machines in action below:

“We are excited to showcase a revolutionary cooking robot alongside our world-class culinary and retail offering at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo,” Said Robin Padgett, CEO of dnata Catering & Retail.

“We are constantly looking for ways to further improve quality and efficiency by leveraging the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence and automation, across our global network. In recent years we have implemented a number of sophisticated solutions to optimise various aspects of our operations, ranging from consumption analysis to ingredient sourcing, inventory and waste management. We will continue to closely monitor trends and further integrate AI into our operations to harness the power of innovation.”

Credit: dnata/Moley Robotics

The cooking robot is the latest addition to dnata’s robotic line-up, with ‘Bella’ the hospitality robot already in operation in the UAE at Sharjah Airport’s (SHJ) lounge along with its partner, ‘Kitty’. 

At the 2023 Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking to the future of travel by highlighting the creative designs, technologies, and innovations that are driving the future of travel.

If you have an exciting initiative or innovation that deserves to be celebrated, head over to the Skift IDEA Awards and start your application today. The deadline for submissions is June 20, 2023.


IDEAS: onefinestay Adds Theatrical Experience Offering for Rental Stays

1 year ago

Hospitality brand onefinestay will bring bespoke theatrical performances to their guests in the US and UK thanks to a new partnership with London-based private theater group, Revels in Hand.

From a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream to an original piece created for a special occasion, this new offering will enable guests to turn their rentals into their own personal theaters with first-hand access to West End actors, writers and directors.

The performances are available to book through onefinestay’s concierge in the US and UK initially, adding to their existing offering which already includes private chefs, cocktail waiters, event tableware and more via its website.

Credit: Ryan O Donoghue

“We aim to bring unparalleled, tailored experiences to guests in the most exquisite settings, so offering our homes as the immersive setting for Revels in Hand’s bespoke performances was an exciting fit,” says Michele Bayens, director of concierge services at onefinestay. 

Many hotels have experimented with immersive entertainment on property, though few hospitality or short-term rental brands have offered experiential performances as a service.

At the Skift IDEA Awards, we are looking for the projects that are defining the future of guest experience, including day tours, activities, and one of a kind experiences.

If you have an exciting initiative to share, we want to hear about it. Head to the Skift IDEA Awards today and start your submission.