June 8, 2017 View in browser
It seems like everyone these days has a different opinion on whether the political situation in the U.S. is affecting business travel growth.

New research from The U.S. Travel Association finds that after an up and down beginning to the year, with growth slowing in three out of the first four months, projections show that solid business travel growth is anticipated for the remainder of 2017. It takes a few months for Oxford Economics to figure this out on behalf of U.S. Travel, so stayed tuned for future updates that reflect more recent data from the Trump era.

At the IATA Annual General Meeting in Cancun this week, as well, international airline executives said that they have yet to see a significant drop in air bookings as a result of the still-limited electronics ban and general state of political turmoil here.

So against all odds, and despite the doomsaying, the prognosis for increased business travel growth remains positive in the U.S.

We have the latest on hotels experimenting with voice-controlled devices in their guest rooms (do you really want Amazon Alexa listening into your travelers' conversations?) and Sabre's expectation that U.S. airlines won't add a surcharge when passengers book with travel management companies.

There's also a deep dive into the rationale, and ramifications, of Qatar's falling out with several of its Middle East allies. So much for the Middle East as the new great global airline hub network.

Check out all the latest below, and let us know your thoughts on the state of U.S. business travel today.

A final note: You may have noticed our new look this morning. Read more about it here.
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Business of Buying
Business Travel Growth Is Expected to Rise in U.S. Despite Recent Dip
International travel to the U.S. will continue to grow this year, according to U.S. Travel. But given the unpredictability of the U.S. government at this time, the outlook could get worse in a hurry.

Understanding the Qatar Ban and Its Implications for Qatar Airways
The Qatar diplomatic ban is a nightmare for Qatar Airways. Its routings and market share will undoubtedly suffer in the near and medium term.

Airline CEOs Say They Have 15 Minutes to Respond to Customer Crisis Incidents
Three airline CEOs on a four-person panel — all of them except United's Oscar Munoz — said airlines must apologize within 15 minutes for all incidents where they may be at fault. That seems fast, but the news cycle demands it.

British Airways Uses Its Loyalty Program to Apologize
After things go bad, a big burst of loyalty generosity is an easy way for a travel provider to say "we're sorry."

Sabre Predicts U.S. Airlines Won’t Level Booking Surcharges
Sabre argues that it would be self-harming for U.S.-based airlines to copy the surcharges that European airlines like Lufthansa and British Airways are adding on bookings processed outside of their own networks. Perhaps. But airlines often have views widely different than Sabre's.

Foreign Airline CEOs Say They See No Trump Slump on U.S. Routes
It's amazing how resilient U.S. tourism is. Europeans flock to America during the summer, and while anecdotal evidence suggests some travelers may be altering their plans because of politics, many airlines say they're having no trouble filling seats.
Safety + Security
Trump’s Air Traffic Control Proposal Promises Change Without Giving Details
A private air traffic control system isn't dangerous or untested; many countries around the world use them. Until more details are known about what it will take to implement and operate this new system in the U.S., however, you should remain skeptical about the transformative prospects of such a change.
Disruption + Innovation
Apple Talks Up Enhancements to Its Translation and Mapping Tools
Apple's annual gathering of mobile app makers revealed that the company is enhancing its voice-activated translation tools. That perked up our ears. But Siri's still not as fast as many travelers would like.

New Long-Haul Budget Airline Level Targets Weakened Alitalia
We're undecided about whether International Airlines Group will show resolve with Level to build a a long-haul, low-cost carrier over the long term. But in the meantime, it may pose a real challenge to struggling Alitalia.

Travel Tech CEO Series: Points International Aims to Upgrade Airline and Hotel Loyalty Programs
Points is trying to diversify beyond being the world's largest reseller of airlines and hotels points. But this loyalty tech company needs a little more mojo if it wants to produce truly game-changing products.

Best Western Is Testing Voice-Activated Rooms
Like Marriott and other hotel companies, Best Western is figuring out if there's a home for Amazon's Alexa in the hotel guest room.

Skift editors Hannah Sampson [hs@skift.com] and Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.
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