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Skift Travel News Blog

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

Hotels

Tokyo’s Toggle Hotel Brings Color to Bleisure Trend

7 months ago

One of the most talked about trends in travel has been how many people are merging business with leisure in “workcations” or “bleisure.” The Toggle Hotel in Tokyo caught our eyes for how it brings the concept of blended hospitality to life.

The Toggle Hotel has painted most of its interiors in only two colors, accentuating how guests can toggle between leisure and business. Located by the Suidōbashi train station in Chiyoda City, the property has painted each floor in a different pair of colors.

Continuing with its theme of blurring boundaries, the hotel has placed its lobby on the top floor. People start their stay with skyline views and can enjoy a break in a cafe — also painted in only two colors.

Klein Dytham Architecture is the firm behind the project.

The Toggle Hotel

Airlines

Frankfurt Airport Cuts More Flights in Effort to Ease Summer Disruptions

7 months ago

Frankfurt Airport joined London Heathrow among major European hubs slashing flights to try and ease delays and cancellations just as the peak of summer air travel is about to begin.

In a notification to airlines by operator Fraport on Friday, Frankfurt will reduce the number of aircraft movements — a takeoff or landing is considered one movement — to 88 an hour from 96 beginning the week of July 18. The reduction is expected to remain in place through at least August, and follows an earlier cut from 106 movements in June.

(Fraport)

Jens Ritter, the CEO of Lufthansa Airline, the largest carrier in Frankfurt, on Friday called the reductions “right” in an otherwise muted statement about the poor state of operations at the airport.

“In recent weeks, we have already cancelled flights in several waves to relieve the overall system,” he said. “Since the already increased capacities of the ground handling services in Frankfurt are still not sufficient due to a high sickness absence rate, even for the flight schedule that has already been reduced several times, the decision taken by Fraport today is right.”

Ritter added that, since Lufthansa has already cancelled thousands of flights through the end of the summer, other airlines “will now also contribute to an even reduction and stabilization with flight cancellations.”

The cap is likely to raise an outcry at some other airlines. Following a new cap on passenger numbers at London’s Heathrow airport, Emirates called the cap “entirely unreasonable and unacceptable,” and said it would not implement them.

Airlines

Shareholder Group Recommends Against Spirit-Frontier Merger

7 months ago

Shareholder group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is advising investors in Spirit Airlines to vote against a proposed merger with Frontier Airlines.

“The proposal from JetBlue appears to represent a superior alternative,” ISS said in a report Friday. “Shareholders are therefore recommended to vote AGAINST the proposed merger with Frontier.”

The recommendation is a reverse of ISS’ last advisory for a Frontier merger on June 24.

(Edward Russell/Skift)

Frontier CEO Barry Biffle, in a letter to Spirit CEO Ted Christie on July 10, said they were “very far” from garnering shareholder support for the Spirit-Frontier combination. He added that Frontier would not “propose any further modifications to the financial terms” of its merger proposal, which was valued at roughly $2.4 billion in cash and stock at the end of June.

JetBlue’s all-cash offer is valued at nearly $3.8 billion, including a $400 million reverse break-up fee.

Spirit, while it continues discussions with both Frontier and JetBlue, has repeatedly backed a merger with Frontier citing lower regulatory approval risk. The main concern is JetBlue’s unwillingness to offer to end its alliance with American Airlines in the northeast in exchange for antitrust approval. JetBlue has offered to divest all of Spirit’s assets in Boston and New York — the two markets covered by the American alliance — as well as gates at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Spirit shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Frontier proposal on July 27.

Short-Term Rentals

U.S. Short-Term Rental Nightly Rates Push Even Higher in Record Summer

7 months ago

Despite the fears of recession and soaring fuel prices that have retreated somewhat in recent weeks, average daily rates for short-term rentals in the U.S. this summer jumped 7 percent year over year — and that’s nearly 30 percent higher than the summer of pre-pandemic 2019.

airbnb source airbnb
Airbnb short-term rental stay. Source: Airbnb

Those conclusions were part of an update to AirDNA’s mid-year 2022 outlook, which said U.S. average daily rate growth is highest in urban and coastal areas. (See chart below).

“As we look to summer 2022 (June-August), more STR nights have been booked than any other summer in history, as of the end of June,” the report said. “The previous record was set just last year, and the U.S. is currently seeing 12.3% more booked nights than at the same point in time in 2021.”

Short-term rental demand in big cities this summer, though, is still 28.3 percent lower than in the summer of 2019, AirDNA found.

In addition, AirDNA forecast that the U.S. supply of short-term rentals would jump 21 percent year-over-year in 2022 as both Airbnb and Vrbo increased their listings.

“With supply outpacing demand growth as expected, our outlook for occupancy is largely unchanged,” AirDNA said. “Our revised forecast now calls for U.S. occupancy to average 58.2% for the year, slightly lower than our 59.8% forecast in October.”

AirDNA’s occupancy numbers seems to be more bullish than those of Key Data Dashboard. The latter’s occupancy stats may skew more heavily toward vacation rentals specifically.

Occupancy rates in the U.S. in the third quarter (July, August and September) are currently at 39 percentdown from 45 percent during the same period in a standout 2021, according to Melanie Brown, director of analytics at Key Data Dashboard, which tracks vacation rental data.

Mergers and Acquisitions

MGM in Talks With Genting for Potential Purchase of Resorts World Sentosa

7 months ago

Casino-resort Genting Singapore is in talks with bidders for the purchase of Resorts World Sentosa and US-based MGM Resorts International is one of the top contenders, according to Bloomberg reports.

While MGM’s recent talks with Malaysia’s Lim family, that owns 53 percent stake in Genting Singapore, failed to yield an agreement, the Singapore-based casino operator is said to be in early-stage discussions with other potential buyers, as per Bloomberg.

As Covid outbreaks have led to a full closure of casinos in Macau — the Las Vegas of Asia, Singapore’s eased entry restrictions make it more open to international tourists.

A prospective buyer of Genting would also have to worry less about competition as Genting and Sands have an agreement with the Singapore government that limits the amount of gaming properties to the two entities, leaving Marina Bay Sands as its only competitor.

The Singapore Tourism Board had also reached an agreement in 2019 with Las Vegas Sands and Genting Singapore allowing them to significantly expand their respective integrated resorts.

Looking to decrease its dependence on Macau, where all casinos are closed and Japan very cautiously reopening to international tourists, MGM may be keen to explore other Asian destinations for its casino business.

Last year, speaking at the Skift Hospitality and Marketing Summit, William Hornbuckle, CEO and president of MGM Resorts International, had spoken about plans to expand in Asia.

Genting Singapore operates Resorts World Sentosa, an integrated resort on the Sentosa island, off the southern coast of Singapore. The key attractions at Resorts World Sentosa include a casino, the Universal Studios Singapore theme park, the Adventure Cove Waterpark, as well as the Singapore Oceanarium, which is the world’s second largest oceanarium. 

Travel Technology

JetBlue-Backed Startup Flyr Buys Airline E-Commerce Company Newshore

7 months ago

Flyr Labs, which sells software to airlines to help them set their fares in revenue-boosting ways, has bought Newshore, a Barcelona-based software business that helps airlines with selling.

The companies didn’t share the deal terms or price. They said the acquisition would help Flyr’s clients in a few ways, such as by helping carriers more accurately predict buying patterns and respond to disruptions.

“Newshore’s disruption management solution automatically manages and communicates remediations to customers – streamlining many previously inefficient manual processes,” said a spokesperson. The software tools sync with the most commonly used airline technology systems.

Newshore’s Internet booking engine, its tools for improving upselling, and other services, will also appeal to airline customers, the companies said.

Flyr is a San Francisco-based startup backed by JetBlue Airways’ corporate venture arm JetBlue Technology Ventures. It has disclosed raising more than $150 million in funding from multiple investors to date.

See the press release for details.

Airlines

Emirates Rejects London Heathrow Passenger Caps

7 months ago

Emirates is appealing to travelers’ heartstrings in an effort to avoid implementing schedule cuts at London Heathrow that are sought by the airport operator to avoid further operational meltdowns this summer.

“Emirates believes in doing the right thing by our customers,” the Dubai-based airline said Thursday. “However, re-booking the sheer numbers of potentially impacted passengers is impossible with all flights running full for the next weeks, including at other London airports and on other airlines.”

“We reject these demands,” Emirates went on to say in response to Heathrow’s request to cut capacity and stop selling seats on its flights to the airport through September 11. It called the request as “unreasonable and unacceptable” and “with blatant disregard for consumers.”

A model Emirates aircraft sits at the entrance to London Heathrow airport (Cityswift/Flickr)

Heathrow has been dogged by the operational issues that plague European air travel this summer. Images of piles of lost luggage have grabbed headlines, while travelers have also faced long queues, as well as flight delays and cancellations that are mostly attributed to staffing shortfalls. The airport’s largest airline, British Airways, has cut its Heathrow capacity by 13 percent from pre-summer plans through October.

Emirates, for its part, said that its ground handling provider at Heathrow, Dnata, is fully staffed.

What happens next between Emirates and Heathrow is unclear. The airline said the airport threatened “legal action” if it did not comply with the request to reduce seats and stop sales. However, a court case could take some time to reach a conclusion, potentially longer than the caps are in place. In addition, slots — or the right for an airline to land or takeoff at an airport — at Heathrow are managed by Airport Coordination Limited, and not by the airport itself.

Airlines

Consumer Trust in Airlines Has Dropped Since January, Says Poll

7 months ago

A new survey has found that only one in four Americans planning to travel in the next three months trust airlines “a lot.” The survey was published on Thursday by Morning Consult.

For both “all U.S. adults” and for “frequent flyers,” trust is down by 4 percentage points since a survey at the start of the year.

The lack of trust is even more pronounced among frequent leisure travelers, with merely one in five saying they fully trust airlines. This result may reflect how frequent flyers have greater exposure to airline performance. Or else it may reflect how many frequent flyers think it’s hip to be jaded.

Sadly, airline executives think it’s hip to be jaded, too. Expect them to complacently ignore consumer complaints and trust that the flyers will keep coming back — with minimal brand damage.

Flyers are justified in their anger, though. Airlines have had a miserable performance this summer, and Skift’s Edward Russell recently explained why.

Here’s another fun result:

“Net trust in the primary U.S. carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines — among users of each brand is lower now than it was in the wake of the winter holidays.”

—Morning Consult


Read the Morning Consult results

Hotels

North American Travelers Rebuke Hotels on Quality Issues, Says JD Power Survey

7 months ago

A lot of hotel guests are dissatisfied with customer service and costs, according to study released on Wednesday by JD Power, a market research firm.

A survey of 34,407 hotel guests for stays between May 2021 and May 2022 found a higher level of complaints than the previous comparable period.

Many consumers appear to be irritated about costs and fees, room cleanliness, and staffing. The results come against a backdrop of a hotel sector struggling to handle the post-pandemic surge in demand during a labor crisis.

Key takeaways involve the interplay of cost and quality in consumers’ minds:

  • “The single biggest factor driving this year’s 8-point decline in overall satisfaction is hotel cost and fees.”
  • Guest satisfaction with budget and “upper-midscale” properties fell 11 points, the largest decline in years.
  • “Another factor driving the decline is satisfaction with guest rooms, which suggests that hotel guests are feeling like they are paying more, but not getting more in return.”
  • “While hotels still get relatively high satisfaction scores for guest room cleanliness, scores for décor and furnishings, in-room amenities and quality of bathrooms decline from a year ago.”

JD Power's North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study

Online Travel

Booking Holdings Faces a Challenge Because of the Euro’s Fall

7 months ago

Much of the attention regarding the euro’s historic fall has focused on Americans getting cheaper vacations in Europe — and the converse for EU residents — but the euro’s reaching parity with the U.S. dollar obviously has business consequences too — and Booking Holdings will likely have to deal with a material adverse impact.

In a research note Wednesday, Jake Fuller of BTIG wrote that he expects an “11 point headwind” to Booking’s growth in bookings in second quarter results and through the rest of 2022 because of volatility in the euro and British pound.

Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport source reuters
Passengers of a flight from Amsterdam wearing protective face masks arrive at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, following the easing of measures against the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Athens, Greece, June 15, 2020. Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

BTIG estimated that Booking Holdings generates about 55 percent of its bookings in Europe. The company doesn’t break out the percentage. “Within Europe, we assume an 85-15 split between the euro and British pound,” the note said.

Booking Holdings’ exposure to the euro “is likely material, should impact the 3Q guide, and does not appear to be reflected in consensus numbers for the year,” the research note added.

Geography has played a major role in how various online travel agencies fared during the pandemic.

Expedia Group benefited throughout much of the pandemic when the U.S. domestic travel market boomed, particularly for stays in vacation rentals.

On the other hand, Booking Holdings suffered because Europe was slower to rid itself of lockdowns than the U.S., and now Booking has to cope with the euro falling to a low it hasn’t seen in two decades.

From a variety of reports, Booking Holdings appeared to be gaining market share in June, but the euro crisis could blunt some of the progress.