Lola CEO on Why Messaging Matters

Kayak co-founder Paul English used to devote his focus to helping travelers plan and book their own trips online. These days, the serial entrepreneur is trying to provide users with a lot more one-on-one help.

His latest startup Lola Travel is a travel agency messaging app meant to give travelers a way to book trips without doing their own legwork.

At the Skift Global Forum in September, English spoke about artificial intelligence, natural language understanding, and taking Lola global. He joined us backstage in the Skift Take Studio to talk more about the inspiration for his new company, how he is trying to improve the tools that travel agents use, and why messaging is more popular than talking.

English spoke to editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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TripAdvisor CEO on Setting Realistic Expectations

They may not know his name, but millions of travelers are familiar with Stephen Kaufer‘s work. He is the CEO and co-founder of TripAdvisor, which gets 350 million average monthly unique visitors and hosts 385 million reviews.

The site goes beyond just reviews: TripAdvisor fully rolled out instant booking early last year and has been branching out into restaurant reservations, vacation home rentals, and tours and activities with acquisitions over the past couple of years.

Kaufer spoke in September at the Skift Global Forum and joined editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson backstage in the Skift Take Studio to talk about the threat of competition, the new ways consumers are using the site, challenges for instant booking, and what is still left to review.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SilverRail CEO on Tackling Trains in a Digital Age

Aaron Gowell sometimes describes himself as the “token train guy.”

He is accustomed to trains getting short shrift from the traveling public, especially in the U.S., but the CEO and co-founder of  SilverRail is on a mission to make it easy to book train travel online by building a digital infrastructure for the global rail industry.

At the Skift Global Forum in September, Gowell talked about the difficulty in booking travel across multiple platforms and modes of transportation. He joined Skift editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson backstage in the Skift Take Studio for an encore discussion that touched on American attitudes toward train travel, the investments other countries are making in rail, and recent breakthroughs with online travel agencies.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Frits van Paasschen on Being Your Own Disruptor

Starwood Hotels & Resorts was all over the news in 2016 as various companies battled to acquire it. Frits van Paasschen, the former Starwood CEO, watched with interest and some nostalgia throughout the process, which ended when Marriott finally closed the deal in September.

Van Paasschen, who has since left the company, is now an investor, advisor, and author of a book called The Disruptors’ Feast.

He spoke in September at the Skift Global Forum in Manhattan and afterwards joined editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson backstage in the Skift Take Studio to talk about his reaction to Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood, whether a 30-hotel-brand portfolio makes sense, and what kind of disruption hotels should be worrying about.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

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Club Med President on the Future of All-Inclusive

Club Med has an iconic name and decades of history, but the company has been forced to adapt for modern millennial travelers.

President Henri Giscard D’Estaing spoke at the Skift Global Forum in September and joined Skift editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson backstage in the Skift Take Studio for a follow-up discussion.

The conversation touched on the future of the all-inclusive model, growth markets for the company, and what he expects the next generation of guests will find as Club Med continues to evolve.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carnival Corp. CEO on Exceeding Expectations

We had the opportunity to interview some of the travel industry’s top CEOs and other executives during the Skift Global Forum this year — so many, in fact, that we’re delivering some of those one-on-one discussions in the form of podcasts.

The first is from our talk with Arnold Donald, the CEO of the world’s largest cruise company, who also kicked off the forum this fall. He joined us behind the scenes in the Skift Take Studio to talk about Carnival Corporation’s efforts to reach new travelers, the company’s expansion into China, and what the future holds for cruising.

Donald spoke to Skift contributing writer Jeremy Kressman.

This mini-episode is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

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What’s Next for Choice and Loyalty in Air Travel

The experience of booking and taking flights has been changing dramatically as airlines deconstruct their products to give passengers more choices for extra fees. At the same time, the value of loyalty programs has diminished, and credit card companies are trying to fill the void.

We’ve got three short conversations packed into one loaded podcast today, all revolving around airlines — a hot topic at the recent Skift Global Forum. Jeremy Kressman, a Skift contributing writer, spoke to this episode’s guests in the Skift Take Studio backstage at the forum.

The first conversation is with Robert Albert, founder and CEO of Routehappy, about innovation in the way airlines sell flights. The second is a spirited back-and-forth with Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy website, and George Hobica, founder of discount airfare site Airfarewatchdog.com, about the value of loyalty.

And finally, we hear from Ben Smith, president for passenger airlines at Air Canada, who touches on those themes and more from a carrier point of view.

This is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

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The Evolution of Tours and Activities

It’s a good problem to have: You’re going on vacation, but what do you do when you’re there? Travelers are demanding more authentic, immersive experiences — but they also sometimes leave that planning until the last minute. At the Skift Global Forum recently, we heard from CEOs who talked about tours, activities, experiences, and traveler behavior from different viewpoints.

In this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re bringing you two conversations on the subject that we had backstage in the Skift Take Studio.

The first is with Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, which owns hotels, a river cruise line, guided tour operators, and youth travel companies. He spoke to Skift contributing writer Jeremy Kressman.

Our second conversation is with Ruzwana Bashir, co-founder and CEO of the tour booking and technology site Peek.

This is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

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What Airbnb and Hotels Should Learn from Each Other

For a long time, hotel executives didn’t talk much about Airbnb. But as the homesharing platform has grown in popularity, the entire hospitality industry has been forced to pay attention. At the Skift Global Forum recently, leaders from Airbnb and boutique hotel companies talked about the disruption.

In this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re bringing you two conversations on the subject that we had backstage in the Skift Take Studio. The first is with Amar Lalvani, managing partner of Standard Hotels parent company Standard International, and Liz Lambert, chief creative officer at Bunkhouse Group. Standard International owns  a majority stake in Bunkhouse.

Our second conversation is with Airbnb’s Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy, Chip Conley, who has a background in boutique hotels.

Skift editor Deanna Ting joins editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson during the episode to add some context to the discussion.

This is one of several conversations we’re bringing you from backstage at the Skift Global Forum. The Skift Take Studio Series is presented by Mastercard, a payments technology company that is enabling loyalty, security and data solutions for the global travel industry.

 

 

 

 

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The Serious Business of Modern Theme Parks

Roller coasters, thrill rides and life-sized cartoon characters might seem like child’s play, but theme parks are serious business.

According to an outlook from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, global theme park spending reached nearly $40 billion in 2014, and worldwide attendance topped 950 million.

North American companies are finding new audiences in burgeoning markets like China, and homegrown operators are investing overseas as well, even as top players in Orlando and California keep upping their game.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the business of theme parks: How they’re trying to reach broader audiences, use technology to personalize visits, and raise the bar in the park experience as they raise prices.

With us in the Skift office is Martin Lewison, a professor of management at Farmingdale State College in New York who studies the theme park industry. And joining us by Skype from Pasadena is Robert Niles, founder and editor of the website Theme Park Insider.

They join Skift editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson and reporter Dan Peltier.

 

 

 

 

 

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