November 25, 2017 View in browser

Note From the Editor

Headlines and stories about digital developments stole the week. Google Flights has a consumer-friendly redesign that replaces an unattractive map and widgets, while Ctrip pounced on its newly acquired domain and turned it into an English-language version of its signature Chinese site.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand is hooking up with Swiss-company Winding Tree to see how blockchain might fit into the airline's passenger services system, and AccorHotels is building a smart room prototype so the guest of the future has more gadgetry to regulate the damn thermostat and curate streaming content and tunes. If the news pace was dizzying, kick back and get your bearings with this week's stories below.
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Top Stories
Google Flights’ New Look Moves Away From Travel Inspiration
Google made its claim to fame partly on the simplicity of its user interface. Its new interface for flight search is a return to its elegant design roots.

Inside Priceline Group’s Diss of Trivago — The Backstory
What do a debate over landing pages, the acquisition of Momondo, a shift into hotel software services, and regulators forcing changes in online travel agency contracts have in common? Each of those seemingly unrelated things may have pushed Priceline to toggle back its spending on Trivago.

Ctrip Relaunches as Its English Language Travel Agency Brand
We had speculated before that Ctrip might use its newly acquired domain for its own agency listings, displacing the travel recommendation service it recently bought. By de-emphasizing its Chinese origin, it may hope to ingratiate itself with more Western travelers.

Chase Introduces New Travel Perks for Credit Card Holders — Business of Loyalty
New perks coming for Chase cardholders should make it more attractive to many travelers. How will American Express respond?

Delta Puts a Better Business Class on Routes Where Travelers Will Buy It
This is a simple business. If you're an airline, you should send your planes to places where they make money. Delta is doing it right.
Airline Food Conundrum – Paid Meals Winning Out Over Freebies
Airline food isn't always tasty, but passengers probably shouldn't compare it to what they find in a restaurant. Delivering food to an aircraft is a logistical challenge, and it's amazing the system works as well as it does.

EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall Will Be a Hard Act to Follow
The best CEOs know when it's the right time to quit. Things may look rosy now, but EasyJet could be in for a tough time if the UK's Brexit negotiations go badly.

Complications of Getting Catering to the Plane — Airline Innovation Report
Are you upset some airlines charge $3 for a soda? There's a reason prices are higher than at a convenience store. It's not easy or cheap to get provisions onto an aircraft.
New Skift Research Report: The Future of Blockchain in Travel Distribution 2018
Our channel checks and industry data point to a relevant future for blockchain technology in travel distribution. However, proponents will need to move fast in creating compelling applications that perform better than what's already out there.

Air New Zealand Plans to Test Blockchain Integration With Its Reservation System
Anyone remember Google Wave? Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, TUI, and a whole bunch of investors and techies are betting that blockchain fulfills a lot of promise and exhibits a ton more staying power than previously-hyped technologies that didn't hang around very long.

Video: Travel Investors on Why Booking Sites Still Have Plenty of Room for Growth
Is this only the beginning of the beginning of online travel? With a recent downbeat set of results from online travel agencies, it's a question that's hotly debated these days.
Airbnb Touts Growth of Trips for Foodies, Millennials and Solo Travelers
Let's do some math, first: How do you calculate 20x growth when you're not given a baseline for comparison? Our guess is whatever that adds up to, it may not be very much.

AccorHotels Is Working on a Smart Room That’s Accessible and Personalized
That AccorHotels is using the Internet of Things and other innovative tech to create more personalized and accessible guest rooms is an idea we can definitely get behind. But we wonder what the company's plans might be to incorporate loyalty into the initiative. It would be crucial in adding value for Accorhotels, property owners, and guests.

Barceló Looks to Create Spanish Hotel Giant With Bid for Rival NH
Combining NH Hotels with another company makes plenty of sense. It would give it added scale and might also help put an end to its shareholder infighting. Of course this is only the opening move in what is likely to be a time-consuming process and given NH's recent history we're sure that it will be anything but straightforward.
Disneyland Cuts Annual Passes for Locals Before Star Wars Crowds Arrive
Disney has been tweaking its pricing to better control visitor numbers so it's no surprise that approach extends to annual passes. The risk in this case is that the change will anger locals who might have otherwise visited repeatedly.

U.S. Tour Operators Optimistic About Cuba Travel Because They’re Even More Essential
U.S. tour operators and travel agents are betting that it will be business as usual, or perhaps even better, as the new Cuba restrictions take effect and individual people-to-people visas get sidelined. But many also find it ironic that the White House announced these changes while Trump was courting leaders of Asian countries that have poor human rights records.

Overtourism Discussion Elicits Denials, Spin and Occasionally an Insightful Idea
Travel leaders are at least starting to admit there might be a problem with unmanaged mass tourism, but many are still in denial about the real reasons it has become such a big issue.
Cruise Lines Rethink Retail Shopping for Age of Experiences
As travelers crave more meaningful experiences during their vacations, where does that leave cruise ship shopping? Cruise operators are trying to figure that out and deliver the kind of retail that passengers will respond to.

Duty-Free Retailers Get Smart — New Luxury
Gone are the days when duty-free retailers could lazily rely on consumers to freely spend their cash in airports. The rise of online shopping has forced them to become much more creative when it comes to generating sales.

Buick Bets on Attainable Luxury With Latest Sub-Brand
Although the auto industry sits adjacent to travel with its own tricks and trials, executives in both camps are looking to respond to luxury consumers' shifting priorities with the right balance of brands and packaging. Avenir is a good example of a team that's doing it right.
Business Travel
Digital Security Comes Into Focus — Meetings Innovation Report
Cybersecurity comes in many forms. Event planners and venues need to do more protect their systems, but attendees can also shield their personal and business information with a little effort.

Hogg Robinson Thinks It Has a Technology Edge on Its Corporate Travel Competitors
IATA's New Distribution Capability appears to finally be gaining traction in corporate travel. Airlines want it to succeed as much as travel management companies, which will have access to a greater amount of content like seat upgrades and other ancillary products.

The Meetings Industry Is Not Worried Enough About Cybersecurity
Cyber security is not a priority for most meeting planners, but experts warn that it's just a matter of time before the industry is hit with a major breach. Both attendees and event professionals can take steps to protect themselves.
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