Skift Travel News Blog

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


Accor Names Gilda Perez-Alvarado as Group Chief Strategy Officer

13 hours ago

Accor said on Monday that it had named Gilda Perez-Alvarado as its group chief strategy officer in charge of overseeing global strategy, relations with hotel owners, and strategic partnerships.

Since 2004, Perez-Alvarado has been at the hotel brokerage firm JLL Hotels & Hospitality, working her way up to become its Global CEO. She’s intimately familiar with the sector’s biggest owners and investors, such as sovereign wealth funds, private equity, global brands, family offices, and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

Perez-Alvarado has spoken about real estate and capital markets at multiple industry events, including at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum. She will start her new role on October 1, becoming a member of Accor’s management board.


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

14 hours 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.


American Airlines Pilots Approve New Contract Worth Nearly $10 Billion

17 hours ago

Pilots at American Airlines approved a new contract Monday worth $9.6 billion over its four-year term, making the carrier the second of the major U.S. carrier after Delta Air Lines to finalize a new pilot accord.

But the deal was hardly a slam dunk for the Allied Pilots Association (APA) that represents the roughly 13,900 pilots at American. Only 72.7% of crew members voted for the deal, according to the union with the balance voting against. Ninety-five percent of pilots voted.

One sticking point among pilots was the failure of the deal to provide them with additional scheduling flexibility.

The contract will raise wages 44% over its term, but it is expected to boost wages by 47% once a snap-up provision is implemented to match rates at Delta and United Airlines. Pilots at American will see an immediate more than 21% pay jump under the deal. It also includes $1.2 billion in retroactive pay and bonuses.

American CEO Robert Isom called the ratification a “great day” for the airline and its pilots in a statement Monday. He added that it would allow the carrier to expand its training capacity, something that was a chokepoint for American to fully recover from the pandemic in 2021 and 2022.

A previous tentative agreement between the APA and American was put on hold after United reached its own tentative deal in July. Following additional talks between the airline and union, the carrier agreed to match the wages offered by United and Delta.

Pilots at Delta ratified a four-year contract of their own in March. That deal included up to 34% pay increases, as well as a snap up provision that meant Delta would match any higher rate set by either American or United. Roughly 78% of pilots at the Atlanta-based carrier voted in favor of the accord.

While the pilot deals were needed to secure labor peace for the airlines, they are also a big contributor to rapidly rising costs. Unit costs, excluding fuel and special items, at American were up 16% from 2019 levels in the second quarter and are forecast to increase another 2-4% in the third quarter. The outlook includes the new labor agreement.

American and other airlines have largely offset the cost increases they’re seeing with higher fares. But fares have begun to fall and the industry has yet to pullback on its post-pandemic capacity growth, which puts further downward pressure on airfares if travel demand does not keep rising.

(IMF Photo/Cory Hancock)

Updated with additional details of the new agreement, statement from American CEO Robert Isom, and background on the negotiations.

Ground Transport

IDEAS: Amtrak Introduces First Electric Vehicle Into National Network

4 days ago

Amtrak and the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) are set to introduce their first electric vehicle into the Amtrak Cascades route.

Credit: Amtrak

The new electric bus will be able to complete the almost 200-mile round-trip on a single charge, with the new EV set to save ‘approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, cutting CO2 emissions by 109 tons annually’, according to a release from Amtrak. 

The charging hub for the electric vehicle has also been built with sustainability in mind, having been installed on land that was once occupied by large fuel tanks.

Credit: Amtrak

“At Amtrak, we strive to give our passengers reliable, comfortable, and sustainable travel options. By incorporating environmental considerations into our current operations and as we work with our partners to reach more of America, we continue to make Amtrak an even ‘greener’ mode of transportation,” said Kara Oldhouser, sustainability director at Amtrak. 

Credit: Amtrak

The introduction of the electric bus bus is hoped to help Amtrak advance its pledge to become net zero by 2045, with the company examining other routes within the National Network that could operate electric vehicles.

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.


Finnair CEO Resigns for Job in Digital Sector

4 days ago

Finnair CEO Topi Manner will end his nearly five-year tenure at the helm of the airline to lead Finnish telecom and digital services company Elisa.

Manner will continue in his role until a successor is named or March 1, 2024, whichever comes first, Finnair said Friday. The airline has begun the search for a new CEO, it added.

Finnair CEO Topi Manner. (Finnair)

Manner took the helm of Finnair in 2019 and led it through, first, the Covid-19 pandemic that shut many of its main markets in Asia to international travel. Then, second, he faced the closure of Russian airspace that drastically altered where and how the airline could fly. Despite these challenges, it is widely agreed that Finnair is succeeding at restructuring its business; the carrier posted a €66 million ($72 million) operating profit and 8.8% operating margin in the second quarter.

Part of Finnair’s transformation includes pivoting away from some its bread-and-butter routes to Asia, and adding new flights to North America, India, and the Middle East. The airline has forged a new partnership with Qatar Airways, as well.

“Topi Manner has done a stellar job with his team in leading Finnair through the double crises of the Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of Russian airspace,” said Sanna Suvanto-Harsaae, the chair of Finnair board of directors. “Finnair has emerged from the double crises as a strong airline, as witnessed by our [second quarter] financial performance.”

Travel Technology

Juniper Group Acquires Hotel Tech Startup Vervotech

4 days ago

Vervotech, a startup that manages hotel room data, is the latest in a string of travel tech acquisitions by Juniper Group.

Juniper Group said Friday that it acquired the India-based startup. Terms were not disclosed. 

Vervotech’s platform analyzes hotel booking data to remove duplicate listings across suppliers, a problem that can lead to inaccuracies and missed bookings. 

Juniper Group is an operating portfolio of Vela Software, one of the six divisions of Constellation Software. Juniper Group also owns software companies Juniper Travel, TPF Software, T4W, Airport Information Systems, and IST Cruise Technology. It also acquired Peakwork in April

Juniper Group said it is focused on acquiring and building businesses in the industries of travel, aviation, banking, insurance, healthcare, public sector, and oil and gas. Juniper Group made six acquisitions in 2022 alone, according to its website. 

Vervotech will continue to operate independently.

Juniper Group said the Vervotech product compliments its booking engine, while the acquired company now has access to more resources for further research and development. 

Sanjay Ghare, co-founder and CEO of Vervotech, said in a statement that the company plans to expand in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Tour Operators

Klook’s New Animal Welfare Policy Puts Cruelty-Free Experiences in Focus

4 days ago

Online travel marketplace Klook is ending the sale of certain exploitative wildlife attractions on its platform, with a new animal welfare policy, set to come into effect on 31 October.

The experiences platform will stop selling circus-style performances involving elephants, dolphins, and tigers, animal shows performances, and animal-photo experiences. It has since removed experiences for Miami Seaquarium and Sea Life Park Hawaii, according to a statement by World Animal Protection.

“Klook must go further,” said Nicole Barrantes, Wildlife Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection, “It must remove all wildlife attractions, including its elephant bathing and feeding offerings, which still involve significant cruelty behind the scenes.”

Klook was pinpointed as enabling animal interactions in a WAP Tracking the Travel Industry report released in February, tying with Groupon for the lowest score in the sector. World Animal Protection stated that companies assessed were given feedback and a timeframe within which to report back as well as put into effect any necessary changes to improve their offering and overall responsible tourism weighting. It had not received any feedback or policy changes from Groupon, as yet.


IDEAS: Red Sea Global Unveils a 3D Printed 5G Tower at Six Senses Resort

5 days ago

Red Sea Global and Zain KSA have unveiled the world’s first zero-carbon 5G network, which is powered by 100% renewable energy.

Credit: Red sea Global

The tower, which is located at Six Senses Southern Dunes resort at The Red Sea, will bring guests ‘the highest speeds for 5G connectivity in the region’ according to a release from Red Sea Global.

Utilizing 3D printing technology, the tower has been designed to seamlessly blend with the landscape by imitating rock formations, ensuring the tower has a minimal visual impact on the surrounding environment.

The network is also set to powered by over 760,000 solar panels, which have been built by Red Sea Global to power the entire 28,000km2 destination. 

“We aspire to be global pioneers of regenerative tourism development, adopting 100% renewable energy at our flagship destination, The Red Sea, and working towards the achievement of a 30% net conservation benefit by 2040. These ambitious goals demand ambitious partners, and our collaboration with Zain KSA transcends telecommunications, extending into sustainability and environmental protection,” said John Pagano, group CEO at Red Sea Global. 

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.

Ground Transport

IDEAS: Airstream and REI Co-op Unveil Sustainable Trailer

6 days ago

Airstream and REI Co-op have unveiled the second trailer of their on-going brand collaboration, with the new model centred around more sustainable construction practices.

The 20 feet long REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X features sustainably sourced and recycled construction materials, with textiles made from recycled products and cabinetry created from lightweight and sustainably grown wood. 

Credit: Airstream/REI Co-Op

There is also the opportunity to increase the eco-credentials of the trailer, including a 360-watt solar package and a water-saving composting toilet.

“Our partnership with REI is expanding at a time of unprecedented growth in the outdoor recreation space, alongside an urgent imperative to conserve and safeguard the outdoor spaces we cherish,” said Bob Wheeler, president and CEO of Airstream. 

“By extending our collaboration series with REI, this new 20-foot Basecamp allows us to serve more environmentally-conscious outdoor enthusiasts looking to upgrade their adventure.”

You can find the full specifications of the Airstream REI Co-op Special Edition Basecamp 20X Travel Trailer here.

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.


Hyatt to Debut Its Extended-Stay Brand in Markets It Hasn’t Tapped Yet

6 days ago

Hyatt gave details on Wednesday about the first locations for Hyatt Studios, a brand it unveiled in April. The hotel operator will open the first Hyatt Studios just outside of Mobile, Alabama, and Marysville, California — targeting spots where its other brands aren’t present.

“We’ve learned that when Hyatt guests stay with a competing brand, they appear to do so for one of two reasons: the absence of a Hyatt hotel within five miles or the choice to stay at a lower chain scale,” said Dan Hansen, global head of Hyatt Studios. “By enabling guests to choose a Hyatt hotel in new markets, we grow brand loyalty without intra-brand competition and present more white-space options to developers.”

exterior of hyatt studios source hyatt
A photo illustration of a planned exterior for the new Hyatt Studios brand. Source: Hyatt.

The company’s “upper-midscale” extended stay brand anticipates opening its first new-build property late next year.

In the port city of Mobile, Hyatt is franchising the brand to 3H Group, founded by Hiren Desai. The port city has tourism, manufacturing, aerospace, and the corporate offices of retailers — all likely to have workers and visitors making multi-day stays and preferring non-budget lodging.

In downtown Marysville, Hyatt founded a franchisee in Presidio Hotel Development. The spot isn’t far from the capital of California, Sacramento.

lobby of hyatt studios source hyatt
The lobby of the new Hyatt Studios brand set to open in 2024. Source: Hyatt.
Guestroom hyatt studios hotel brand
A guest room. Source: Hyatt.