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December 2, 2017 View in browser

Note From the Editor

Google is rolling out changes to its hotel product on mobile, and we're hearing a separate domain for Google Hotels, like it created several years ago and then abandoned, is in the works again, too. What does it mean? Barring regulatory intervention, Google will be — as TripAdvisor chairman Greg Maffei put it — sucking more profitability out of its travel competitors.

Our aviation business reporter, Brian Sumers, followed the tortured maneuverings this week of American Airlines and its pilots union. Like Ryanair, American seems to have botched its pilot scheduling. In American's case, it was for the Christmas holiday period. The airline offered its captains 150 percent pay and possibly other incentives, and now they'll indeed show up. As with American, Google, and so many other things in travel, politics and life, just follow the money.
Bridging the Funding Gap for Travel Startups [SPONSORED]
Sponsored by Amadeus
Research shows that there's a significant gap between early, mid and later stage funding rounds—unfortunately, it makes sense. The very nature of early vs. middle-to-late stage funding makes it difficult for startups in the travel space to move beyond the beginning stages.
Read More
Top Stories
Google Hotels Revamps Mobile Features as Its Ambitions Expand
Google wants consumers to buy more travel on it. That may prompt industry players to closely patrol the gray line between the search giant referring more customers to them and Google becoming customers' first choice for booking trips.

Best Airline and Hotel Innovators in 2017 From a Business Traveler’s Perspective
Here's to some of the most innovative and thoughtful brands in travel today. These companies are doing the heavy lifting to make travel and hospitality more inspiring.

American Airlines Potential Holiday Pilot Shortage, Explained
Let's hope American Airlines can find enough pilots willing to fly extra in December. Otherwise, it will be a mess for customers.

8 Financial Themes Shaping the Hotel Industry in 2018 and Beyond
After pouring over third quarter earnings results and investor calls, it's clear the big hotel chains have embarked on a new, but potentially arduous road.

Delta Brings Back Complimentary Upgrades for Frequent Flyers — Business of Loyalty
Delta is slowly restoring benefits once-lost to SkyMiles members, but it's more of a competitive move against other carriers than an olive branch for passengers.
Onefinestay CEO Views Hyper Personalization as Next Stage of Luxury Rentals
In other words, don't expect AccorHotels to be vying for Wyndham's European vacation rental business anytime soon.

Marriott Edges Out Hyatt for Top Honors in J.D. Power’s Hotel Loyalty Survey
Should other hotel loyalty programs follow World of Hyatt's lead in being much more revenue-based and geared toward high-end travelers? This survey's findings seem to suggest it, but we have some reservations.

Hotel Chains Are Scrambling to Keep Up With Demand in Africa
Despite its infrastructure challenges and a reputation for red tape, the world's biggest hotel brands can't seem to get enough of Africa. With thousands of rooms in the development pipeline, African cities will soon be festooned with a slew of international brands. It's good news for global travelers and local economies alike.
Blockchain for Hotel Distribution Will Come Down to the Economics
Decentralized applications for hotel distribution will soon live side-by-side with existing channels.

Amazon Wants More Hotels Using Alexa Voice-Powered Services
"Siri: How will Apple respond to hotels adopting Amazon's Alexa?" That's the question.

Airbnb Makes Good on Startup Acquisition With Launch of Split Payments for Group Travel
For anyone who's ever had to wrangle a payment from a friend for a trip, this new Airbnb payments feature is a very welcome early holiday present.
American Airlines Cracks Down on Smart Luggage with Built-In Batteries
This is a good move by American Airlines. Yes, passengers should know they can't check luggage with built-in chargers. But there's always a big scrum on the plane or at the gate when bags must be checked at the last minute. Surely, some passengers forget to remove the batteries.

Southwest Takes Customer Service Seriously — Airline Innovation Report
When something goes wrong on a flight, Southwest tries to be proactive in communicating with customers. Is this the right approach? Or should Southwest wait until passengers complain?

American Airlines Solves Its Holiday Pilot Problem and Will Not Cancel Any Flights
This was a lot of public drama for no reason. Maybe it would have been better for the company and the union to solve their differences in private. The flights would have continued as scheduled, and no one would have known there was an issue.
Business Travel
Lyft Finally Goes Corporate With Carlson Wagonlit Travel Deal
Lyft is playing catch up in the corporate travel sector, and partnerships with the major global travel management companies are a good way to increase adoption. Uber's lead, however, remains enormous.

Half of European Business Travelers Shun Their Corporate Booking Tools
Business travelers in Europe are completely divided on how they prefer to book their work travel. Travel management companies need to make their online booking tools more compelling and easier to use.

Meetings and Events Technology Alone Can’t Solve Accessibility Challenges
People with disabilities are often overlooked by event spaces and meeting planners. A new wave of innovation and technology can help make meetings and events more accessible, but lasting change needs to start with a focus on increasing accessibility during the planning process.
Trump Slump Means U.S. Tourism Is Losing Visitors From Its Most Important Markets
The Trump slump is not only real; it's worse than anticipated. The much-coveted Chinese travelers, for instance, are looking to travel elsewhere for now.

Skift Podcast: Finding Solutions for the Overtourism Dilemma
We've got your overtourism coverage. And we have some ideas for how to address the problem. Tune in for a valuable conversation.

Japan Tourism Is Using Celebrity Chefs to Make the Country More Palatable to U.S. Travelers
Japan Tourism really thinks that U.S. travelers are turning Japanese, or at least their travel wish lists are. The tourism board is more building off the momentum it already has in the U.S. But most U.S. travelers don't speak Japanese, and that will continue to be a sticking point for the country's tourism.
European Booking Sites
Thomas Cook China Operation Faces Strong Opposition
China is a tiny part of its overall business right now, but Thomas Cook is thinking long term. Whether the company's expansion into China is a success or not will probably come down to the strength of its local opposition, which is deeply entrenched.

eDreams Claims Being Transparent Is Actually Good Business
Who'd have thought not annoying your customers was good for business? On the other hand, the supposed turnaround just happens to fit in nicely with a potential sales process.
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