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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Iceland and the Perils of Overtourism

Iceland is in the midst of a tourist boom that has seen visitation increase about 264 percent between 2010 and 2015.

Last year, nearly 1.3 million foreign tourists visited the country, and tourism has become the tiny country’s top industry. But the influx of tourists is also bringing concerns about the environment, infrastructure, housing, and the impact on residents’ quality of life.

Skift sent reporter Andrew Sheivachman to Iceland to explore how this overtourism has affected the country over the last several years. He spent nearly a week interviewing more than a dozen tourism leaders and produced a 12,000-word deep dive on the issue.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about how Iceland became a hot tourist spot, the tiny country’s complicated relationship with its visitors, and how the problems of overtourism can be solved.

Along with Andrew, who joins editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson, we’re hearing from some of his interviews with the people who are dealing with the tourism surge, including Grímur Sæmundsson, CEO of the Blue Lagoon spa and chairman of the Icelandic Travel Industry AssociationÓlöf Ýrr Atladóttir, director general of the Icelandic Tourist Board; Sölvi Melax, founder of the car-sharing company Cario; Skúli Mogensen, the CEO of low-cost carrier Wow Air; and Fridrik Palsson, owner of the boutique Hotel Rangá in Hella.

 

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What Online Travel Legends Say About the Future of Travel

The Skift Global Forum recently brought together some of the biggest names in online travel for rousing conversations on stage and behind the scenes.

The lineup was full of heavy hitters: Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia Inc.; Jay Walker, founder of Priceline and CEO of Upside; Brad Gerstner, founder and CEO of Altimeter Capital; and Rich Barton, founder of Expedia and current executive chairman of Zillow Group.

After talking about the past, present, and future of online travel in front of a crowd, they joined us backstage in the Skift Take Studio for an encore conversation about mobile, voice search, augmented reality, and how the industry is adapting to changing consumer behavior.

They spoke to Skift contributing writer Jeremy Kressman and editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson.

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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Black Travel Has Become a Movement

The travel industry has historically been dominated by white men, but over the past few years, travel companies created by and for black Americans have thrived.

Last year brought a flurry of media coverage of the burgeoning black travel movement thanks to groups including Nomadness Travel Tribe, Travel Noire, and an active social media community. But the challenges for black travelers haven’t disappeared, and the group is still underrepresented in leadership and media.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the contemporary black travel movement in the U.S., how it’s evolved, and what the future looks like for the community.

Our guests are Evita Robinson, founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe, a travel-centric community of more than 13,000 people, and Shannon Washington, co-founder and director of Parlour Magazine, which focuses on travel and style for black women.

They join associate editor and podcast host Hannah Sampson and editorial assistant Sarah Enelow.

 

 

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How Hostels Are Trying to Move Beyond the Backpacker

Hostels have traditionally been a cheap, barebones option for backpackers and college kids exploring on a tight budget. While they have not always been known for their hipness or creativity, in recent years some companies have pioneered hostels with a focus on design, local flavor, and the kind of social buzz that attracts even non-guests.

On this episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about how hostels have evolved, what’s next for the sector and whether they might finally break through in the U.S.

Our guest is Fredrik Korallus, the CEO of Generator Hostels, which describes itself as “Design Led Hostels.” The London-based company has 12 properties around Europe and plans to add its first U.S. site in Miami Beach next year.

He joins Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and senior editor Greg Oates.

 

 

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Puerto Rico and the Fight for Caribbean Tourism

Puerto Rico has long enjoyed a reputation as an easy-to-visit tropical getaway thanks to its status as a U.S. territory. But the news has been bleaker over the last couple of years. First came the debt crisis last year, followed by this year’s spread of Zika. The U.S. declared a public health emergency in August because of the virus; nearly 20,000 people have been infected in Puerto Rico.

On today’s episode of the Skift podcast, we’re talking about the double whammy blow to tourism in Puerto Rico, what tourism officials have learned about coping with crisis, and how Caribbean destinations are sharing information.

Our guests are Ingrid Rivera, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, and Clarisa Jiménez, president and CEO of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association.

They join Skift podcast host Hannah Sampson and reporter Andrew Sheivachman.

 

 

 

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Why Business Owners Struggle to Take Time Off

In this special edition of the Skift podcast, we’re taking a look at why small business owners are especially susceptible to experiencing anxiety when considering taking a vacation, as well as some potential solutions.

This podcast is sponsored advertising content produced by SkiftX for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card from Chase, introducing new benefits that make it even easier for small business owners to take a well-deserved break. All opinions expressed are the speakers’ own.

The average number of vacation days taken by U.S. workers continues to decline — and small business owners are no different. In a recent survey, it was revealed that despite knowing the importance and benefits of completely unplugging from work, only 25 percent of small business owners are actually able to do so. And, even then, nearly three-quarters worry about the work and responsibilities they’re missing during their time off.

Joining us on the podcast are Ida Kroll and Katie Denis. Kroll is an entrepreneur, world traveler, and founder and CEO of Eventland in New York City. Denis is senior program director of Project: Time Off, a U.S. Travel initiative, which aims to shift culture so that time off is not considered frivolous, but rather essential to improving personal health as well as a business investment with proven returns.

For this episode, SkiftX branded content director Kat Townsend sits alongside Skift research director Luke Bujarski.

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