March 31, 2018 View in browser

Note From the Editor

If you are lucky enough to be spending this holiday weekend at a hotel in a vacation destination or around the corner from family for a visit, the lobby may have a more communal feel than it might have in years past, or perhaps there isn't even a traditional hotel front desk at all. While guests' expectations about their interactions with the hotel and staff may be changing, behind the scenes hoteliers are scurrying to keep up with changing customer behaviors and the potpourri of technology systems to make it all happen. Travel Tech Editor Sean O'Neill took a look at the evolution of the hotel front desk. So kick back, order some room service (if your hotel still has it), and enjoy the read. O'Neill did all the hard work.
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Top Stories
The Evolution of the Hotel Front Desk: Why Tech Can Only Go So Far
Even consumers who embrace technology may worry that companies are exploiting them through so-called personalization. Hoteliers need to balance digital ingenuity with a human touch.

Why Airlines Almost Always Serve Breakfast on Long-Haul Overnight Flights
Could airlines stop with the 4 p.m. breakfasts? Savvy travelers want to get acclimated to their new time zone as fast as possible, and a later afternoon meal of sausage and eggs doesn't help. But keep the coffee. It's vital.

Expedia Tweaks Name After Priceline Rebrand, Egencia, Trivago, and HomeAway, among others, are all Expedia companies. The parent company wants Wall Street to understand that it is more than just the Expedia brand. The Priceline Group had long been associated with even though is the company's largest brand. So there seemed to be more of a reason for Priceline's name switch than for Expedia's.

Being Informal Is the Future of Luxury Guest Relations
Luxury travelers are seeking out experiences that enrich their lives rather than isolate them from adventures. That's why The Thief in Oslo is one of a growing number of luxury hotels that are pursuing more informal and instantaneous relations with guests.

The Death of Priceline’s Name Your Own Price Is Likely Drawing Near
Booking Holdings is still making considerable money from's bidding service for hotels. But the service has outlived its usefulness, and will likely fold within a year or two. Take a look at how markets other ways to book hotels on its site. Enough said.
Longer Flights Have Hong Kong Airlines Rethinking Customer Experience
We'd love to see an airline rethink the business class experience. Perhaps one might retire all the fluff, like the multi-course attempts at fine dining, served on tablecloths. But people apparently like the business class pageantry, so it sticks around, even on new entrants, like Hong Kong Airlines.

Boeing’s Newest Dreamliner Is More of a Regional Aircraft Than Its Predecessors
Earlier Boeing 787 Dreamliners revolutionized aviation, allowing airlines to open sexy new long-haul routes. The 787-10 probably won't do that, but it's still an impressive aircraft.

DOT Slaps Qantas For Violating Obscure U.S. Law
The fine here is miniscule. But the issues are interesting. Qantas has the right to fly between New York and Los Angeles, and it does so every day. But it can only carry a small subset of passengers.
Marriott Exec on the Luxury Evolution
Marriott's Tina Edmundson has plenty to say about the value of brands, and how hospitality companies need to respond to changing consumer demands and needs, especially when it comes to the lifestyle and luxury spaces.

New Private Member Clubs Take On Soho House to Redefine Hospitality
It sounds antithetical but, in their efforts to make everyone feel "like a local," perhaps hotel brands should be taking a look at The Curtain and Karl Lagerfeld Hotels, seeing how the private club model could work for them.
New Skift Research Analyst Session: Exploring Vacation Rental Tech Must-Haves
More consumers than ever are using vacation rentals. But as the line with hotels blurs and the industry enter a new growth phase, it faces unique challenges in delivering the hospitality guests expect. Technology will be key to providing an elevated guest experience and will help determine who sees the most success.
TripAdvisor and Expedia Pull TV Ads in Boycott of Laura Ingraham’s Fox Show
Kudos to TripAdvisor and Expedia for doing the right thing in helping encourage civil discourse. Whatever one thinks about the gun policy debate, picking on a teenager's personal musings about college applications unrelated to the topic at hand is out of bounds.

TUI Is Buying a Destination Services Business From Hotelbeds for $136 Million
TUI is using some of the cash it amassed from selling companies such as Hotelbeds to buy a business from ... Hotelbeds. Maybe its taken a bit of time for the management to realize that tours and activities are strategic and a potential growth area.

Skift Podcast: The Airbnb Threat to Hotels and Booking Sites
Airbnb always gives us plenty to talk about — and this episode of the Skift Podcast features a lively conversation about the many ways the homesharing company is venturing beyond its original focus and disrupting wide swaths of the travel industry.
Corporate Travel
Expense Technology Gets Smarter as Providers Look Beyond Receipts
Beyond automatically integrating travel booking with expenses, a lot is being done to give travel managers and financial departments more powerful tools to track spending. It also helps that these tools will eventually make the expense report process much easier for travelers.
Online Booking Finally Becomes Reality for Meeting Planners
Figuring out where to hold a small meeting is becoming more like booking a flight or hotel online. As more of the giant hotel chains buy into this model, there is the potential for the wider distribution marketplace for meetings space to shift significantly.

Meeting Planners Need to Get Game for Esports
Nearly a billion people around the world will tune in to watch someone else play a video game this year. Digital events have become ingrained into the culture of millennials and Gen Z, and the sector is rapidly learning how to combine virtual entertainment with engaging real-life experiences. Event professionals need to pay attention to this evolution.
SeaWorld CMO Is Latest to Go in Executive Purge
SeaWorld has said its new marketing campaign is an important step as the operator tries to bring in more visitors and leave its troubles behind. Now that the chief marketer is gone, will the emphasis change?

What This Tokyo Bookstore Can Teach Travel About the Tech Backlash
In a world where actual connection is more important than ever as a technology backlash looms, how can travel brands create more human experiences through addictive shared spaces?

What a China-U.S. Trade War Could Mean for the Travel Industry
This story covers the possible ramifications of a China-U.S. trade war from several angles. We don't immediately know how this will play out, but travel companies would be wise to pay close attention as the story unfolds.
High-End Hotels Embrace Informality
Gone is the buttoned-down, forced formality, and in its place comes the freedom and confidence to treat guests as individuals. A new generation of hoteliers is learning to embrace informality.
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