Why Accor Had No Choice But to Change

If AccorHotels isn’t in the news for buying another hotel company, it’s earning headlines for acquiring an alternative accommodations provider, concierge service, or event specialist.

As CEO Sébastien Bazin told Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Deanna Ting recently at Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, Accor has spent more than 600 million euros ($715.4 million) in the last four years buying or investing in various startups. And while he expects some of the investments to fail, the CEO believes it’s more important to make big moves than to be a sleeping giant.

This episode of the Skift Podcast brings you that conversation between Bazin and Ting. They talked about why Accor wants to be part of travelers’ everyday lives, the lessons Bazin has learned from making so many acquisitions, and whether the hype around Accor matches reality. (The CEO, not surprisingly, believes it does.)

This is the first of several podcasts featuring conversations from Skift Forum Europe.

 

 

 

 

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The Airbnb Threat to Hotels and Booking Sites

Airbnb says its goal is to become a “super brand of travel,” and the company that started as a homesharing platform 10 years ago has been taking major steps to make that a reality. In addition to alternative accommodations, dining, and tours and activities, Airbnb is also getting into the actual hotel business.

With a new public push to get boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts to list their rooms on the site, Airbnb is giving online travel agencies like Booking.com and Expedia a run for their money. And hotels are still trying to figure out how to handle competition from the company.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the Airbnb threat: What online travel agencies might be in for, the opportunities that exist for the hospitality industry, and what it all means for hotel owners.

Our conversation first took the form of a Skift Call not too long ago.

Skift Hospitality Editor Deanna Ting led the call, and she was joined by Executive Editor Dennis Schaal and Skift Research Senior Analyst Rebecca Stone.

 

 

 

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Megatrends Defining Travel in 2018

Every year at Skift, we zero in on the big trends transforming the travel industry. We call them the Megatrends defining travel, and this year was our most mega yet.

With a new regional spotlight and a fresh focus on restaurants thanks to our colleagues at Skift Table, we included 19 editorial megatrends in our annual magazine, which is available to download here.

In mid-January in New York, we held the first of three Megatrends events and drilled down on nine of those topics, including the way travel brands are turning into experience platformshow hotels are trying to be everything to everyone, the return of European travelers to disrupted destinations, and the way restaurants are fighting the delivery boom. We recorded that event and turned it into this episode of the Skift podcast.

Speakers were Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali, hospitality editor Deanna Ting, travel tech editor Sean O’Neill, Skift Table senior editor Kristen Hawley, and news editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson.

This year’s Megatrends are sponsored by our partners at AccorHotelsAllianz Worldwide PartnersHilton Garden InnIntrepid Travelonefinestay, and Upside.

 

 

 

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Finding Solutions for the Overtourism Dilemma

Skift has been reporting extensively on overtourism for more than a year now, examining the impact on places like IcelandBarcelona, and Amsterdam.

We’ve been writing about the issues associated with massive numbers of tourists, but we have also sought to find solutions. On the latest episode of the Skift Podcast, we offer a conversation about the way destinations can start to address the problems of overtourism.

Our conversation first took the form of a Skift Call.

Our guest was Megan Epler Wood, director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her latest book, Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet, was released earlier this year.

Epler Wood spoke with tourism experts Andrew Sheivachman and Dan Peltier and news editor Hannah Sampson.

 

 

 

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What to Expect From the New Expedia

Anyone who follows travel knows that Expedia has been making a lot of news lately. Now-former CEO Dara Khosrowshahi left to take the top job at Uber, and Expedia promptly promoted its CFO Mark Okerstrom to the chief executive position.

At Skift, we’ve been all over this story since the news broke late one recent Sunday night, so we put together a team to do a newsy conference call in early September about Dara’s legacy, his replacement, Expedia’s financial performance, and the opportunities and challenges ahead.

We recorded that call, which is featured in today’s episode of the Skift podcast. To see the slides mentioned in the conversation, go to skift.com/expediaslides.

Leading the call was Skift executive editor Dennis Schaal, who has been covering Expedia since 2000. He was joined by senior research analyst Jared Wein, research director Luke Bujarski, hospitality editor Deanna Ting, and senior writer Andrew Sheivachman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skift Backstage Podcast: What Next-Level Hotels Have in Common

Cookie-cutter uniformity is not what most travelers are seeking from hotels these days. Instead, discerning guests want local food, curated experiences, thoughtful design, and even a touch of quirkiness.

On this episode of the Skift Podcast, we’re hearing from some of the pros who make a living connecting travelers with standout hotel experiences. James Lohan and Tamara Heber-Percy are the founders of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a travel club that started out as a guidebook featuring under-the-radar boutique hotels. We also have an interview with Claus Sendlinger, CEO and founder of Design Hotels.

They all spoke at Skift Forum Europe in London earlier this year and sat down with us behind the scenes in the Skift Take Studio.

Our talks touched on the evolution of hotel design and consumer demands, the beyond-the-spa experiences that travelers are craving, and the needs that hotels still aren’t quite meeting.

This is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at Skift Forum Europe.

 

 

 

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Skift Backstage Podcast: Travel Search, Bargain Hunting and the Future of Booking

Why search for travel on one site when you can search a bunch all at once? That’s the concept behind travel metasearch companies, which take your query for a hotel in Paris, for example, and give you the chance to book it across multiple sites.

We had the leaders of several metasearch companies speak recently at Skift Forum Europe in London. Those included Trivago managing director Johannes Thomas, Kayak co-founder and CEO Steve Hafner, Momondo Group CEO Hugo Burge, and Skyscanner co-founder and CEO Gareth Williams.

Each of those executives also sat down with News Editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson behind the scenes in the Skift Take Studio.

The companies all had newsy developments recently: Trivago went public late last year, Kayak parent company Priceline Group announced plans to buy Momondo Group earlier this year, and Chinese travel firm Ctrip acquired Skyscanner at the end of 2016 for more than $1.7 billion dollars.

Our discussions were wide-ranging and touched on advertising strategies, competition in the metasearch space, evolving customer behavior, the emergence of natural language and voice search, and how to get users to love the product.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at Skift Forum Europe.

 

 

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Skift Backstage Podcast: Norwegian Air CEO on Flying Cheap and Long-Haul

We at Skift are all about disruptors in the travel industry, and today we have an interview with an executive who has been shaking up the airline industry with his long-haul, low-cost strategy.

Norwegian Air has been making headlines over its inexpensive transatlantic flights, its strategy of using airports in smaller markets instead of large international hubs, and its plans to expand to Argentina.

Bjorn Kjos, the CEO of Norwegian Air, was a speaker recently at the first Skift Forum Europe. He also spoke to me, editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson, behind the scenes in the Skift Take Studio.

Our conversation touched on the introduction of $65 one-way transatlantic flights, competition from legacy carriers, the airline’s growth opportunities around the world, and the risks facing global travel.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at Skift Forum Europe.

 

 

 

 

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Skift Backstage Podcast: Global Tourism in a Volatile Time

Volatility in the world — and the way the travel industry deals with it — was one of the big themes recently at the first Skift Forum Europe in London.

Terror attacks, political upheaval, isolationist policies and security crackdowns are all changing the way that travelers make decisions and move around the globe. As political leaders seek to reinforce borders, travel insiders are trying to convey a message of welcome to potential visitors — sentiments that frequently find themselves at odds.

On this episode of the Skift Podcast, we’re hearing from two experts who take a global view of tourism amid all that change. We spoke to them in separate conversations behind the scenes in the Skift Take Studio during the Forum in London.

First, we’ll hear from Olivier Jager, CEO and co-founder of ForwardKeys, which compiles tourism data based on reservations transactions. Jager, who was an attendee at the event, spoke to us about how global events impact tourism, the need for quick information on how travelers react to change, and the “Trump Slump” report that the company put out after the new administration’s first travel ban in January. That analysis showed a 6.5 percent drop in international bookings to the U.S. immediately following the ban.

We also have a conversation with Gerald Lawless, chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council, who was a speaker at the Forum. Lawless, who is also head of tourism and hospitality for Dubai Holding, spoke about the Open Skies fight, overtourism, the growth of the Chinese travel market, and the recent laptop ban on several airlines. WTTC held its 2017 Global Summit this week in Bangkok.

 

 

 

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What Hotels Are Doing to Win Your Loyalty

This is the year that travelers might have to start questioning their hotel loyalties, if only because hotel loyalty programs are changing so much.

Marriott is merging its program with Starwood’s SPG. Hyatt’s new program just launched. And Hilton recently announced a slate of new features.

And all of these changes are taking place as online travel agencies continue to lure many travelers driven by price rather than points, and up-and-coming accommodations providers like Airbnb win fans without even offering a loyalty program.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking hotel loyalty: who’s doing it right, who’s still trying, and how it is continuing to evolve.

Our guest is Gary Leff, founder of the View from the Wing blog and an expert on points programs. He joins podcast host Hannah Sampson and Skift hospitality editor Deanna Ting.

We’ll also hear from some interviews that Ting did at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in L.A. with Scott Berman, U.S. hospitality and leisure practice leader at PwC; Best Western Hotels & Resorts president and CEO David Kong; and Langham Hospitality Group CEO Robert Warman.

 

 

 

 

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