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Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: Marriott International Relaunches ‘Check Out for Children’ Campaign

6 days ago

Marriott International has announced that it is continuing its partnership with UNICEF by relaunching ‘Check Out for Children,’ a program that has been created to give guests the opportunity to make a voluntary donation to the organization during their stay.

Credit: Marriott International/Unicef

According to a release, guest donations collected as part of the program will help to fund UNICEF’s work to ‘make a better world for every child in over 190 countries and territories,’ and will power initiatives to create cleaner environments, advocate for children with disabilities, and help to protect refugees.

“Marriott is proud to continue its legacy of serving our world in collaboration with UNICEF,” said David Marriott, chairman of the board, Marriott International in a release.

“Since 1995, we have worked with UNICEF to provide much needed funding for youth health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, and the protection and care of children in the face of natural disaster. The Check Out for Children program is an incredible opportunity for our guests and our hotels to support UNICEF’s relentless pursuit of bettering the lives of children around the world.”

Check Out for Children is being expanded in recognition of World Children’s Day, with the program now live in over 500 properties across 40 countries.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


Climate Change Not a Top Focus for U.S. Tourism Marketers: Report

6 days ago

Only 8% of U.S. tourism boards strongly prioritize addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. In contrast, 62% of European tourism boards and 29% of Canadian tourism boards have made it a top priority. That’s according to Sojern’s “State of Destination Marketing 2024.”

The report is based on a survey of over 300 destination marketers by the Digital Tourism Think Tank, commissioned by travel marketing platform Sojern, and endorsed by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission.

Compared to other regions, regenerative tourism is not a strong strategic focus for U.S. tourism boards. Only 28% in the U.S. have made it a focus, while over 40% of Canadian and European tourism boards have made it one.

Tourism boards differ regionally when it comes to diversity and inclusion. In the U.S. and Canada, over half of tourism boards prioritize celebrating racial and ethnic diversity in their marketing.  In Europe, however, 23% do so.

In addition, Canadian tourism boards stood out for their representation of Indigenous Peoples at 71%, according to the report.

When it comes to reaching travelers with disabilities, over 40% of American and European tourism boards put it as a top priority in their marketing. About 12% of Canadian tourism boards, on the other hand, do so.

Below are updates based on comments from Sojern. The headline was also updated.

  • The survey’s original question was, “How are the following prioritized in your strategy?” U.S. tourism boards still prioritize climate change and net zero gas emissions commitments but not above other focuses like biodiversity and natural environment, diversity, equity and inclusion, and so on.
  • The question above was intended to gauge how tourism boards are focused on sustainability overall, not just climate change.
  • Europe has government policies on sustainability that the U.S. does not. That will explain some regional differences.
  • Tourism board priorities are set by their funding partners. In certain destinations, climate change will logically be less of a priority than other aspects of sustainability.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s New Chief Legal Officer Is A Former Biden Aide

7 days ago

Airbnb announced today that it has appointed former White House chief of staff and a prominent figure in Democratic circles Ron Klain as its chief legal officer. A close Biden aide, Klain will begin his role at the company starting January 1.

Last year, Airbnb appointed Jay Carney as the global head of policy and communications. Carney handled public relations for Amazon for seven years after serving as the White House press secretary for the Obama administration. 

Klain, known for his strategic thinking, operational expertise, and close ties to Washington, will report directly to Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky. 

“Ron is both a big-picture strategic thinker and a highly skilled operator, and I’m thrilled he’ll be a close advisor,” said Chesky in a statement. “People have described Ron as one of the smartest people they’ve ever met, but more than his intelligence, he’s known for his excellent judgment and his big heart. Ron is the perfect addition to our team.”

Klain served as White House Chief of Staff from January 2021 to February 2023.

Most previously, Klain was a litigation partner at O’Melveny & Myers. Klain told Axios that he heard about the opening at Airbnb, which was a client of the law firm. 

Klain is not new to representing tech businesses in litigation. He has also served as the chief legal officer at venture capital firm Revolution. 


Fee Transparency Could Save U.S. Hotel and Short-Term Rental Customers $1 Billion Per Year

1 week ago

In a long, dense and fascinating proposed rule document the U.S. Federal Trade Commission published earlier this month in the Federal Register, it outlines what the effect of fee transparency will be on the time consumers save to book online.

The document outlines the proposed rules, and calculates the times savings and costs involved in compliance with these new rules, for sectors such as the live-ticketing industry, the hotel and short+term rental industry (which it jointly calls short-term lodging sector) and the restaurant sector.

For the short-term lodging sector, these two charts of calculation are worth looking at. All of the benefits and costs and have been calculated over 10 years period.

The FTC analysis says that on an economy-wide basis, there are positive benefits to the proposed rule if the benefit per U.S. consumer is at least $6.65 per consumer per year over a 10-year period. Quantified benefits in these industries derive from time savings consumers would experience due to greater price transparency, leading to more efficient shopping processes. Quantified costs derive from the costs to firms of complying with the proposed rule.

Over a 10 year period, the U.S. consumers will save anywhere from $663 million on the low end to $980 million per year on the highest end of the assumptions, and anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion over the 10 year period.


IDEAS: JW Marriott Encourages Guests to ‘Stay in the Moment’ with New Asia-Pacific Campaign

1 week ago

JW Marriott has launched a new Asia-Pacific campaign, taking inspiration from the K-drama genre and starring South Korean actor, Lee Min-ho. 

The three-minute video titled ‘Stay in the Moment’, tells the story of a headstrong son and his family, who face their issues and overcome barriers by embracing the life moments provided through the shared experiences of travel.

You can view the video below:

The campaign has been created to ‘underscore the beauty of human connections’, by emphasizing the strong familial bonds that are forged in unforgettable moments, said JW Marriot in a press release. 

“The ‘Stay in the Moment’ campaign focuses on the discerning luxury traveler who seeks well-being, mindfulness and profound connections-all the elements that speak to the spirit of the JW Marriott brand,” said John Toomey, chief sales & marketing officer Asia Pacific, Marriott International. 

“Lee Min-ho’s starring performance in the campaign video beautifully captures the JW Marriott experience, embodying the holistic and inspirational moments that shape our journeys and enrich our lives.”

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


China and U.S. to Improve Tourism Ties, Says Chinese President Xi

1 week ago

The U.S. and China will improve air connectivity and streamline visa processing, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in public remarks on Wednesday. Xi made the remarks at a dinner hosted by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and US-China Business Council. 

The dinner followed Xi’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco. 

“Today, President Biden and I reached an important consensus,” said Xi. “Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures.”

Long visa wait times and weak air connectivity prevented the full resumption of Chinese tourism to the U.S. Without Chinese tourism, the U.S. can’t fully recover from the pandemic, Brand USA CEO and President Chris Thompson has said.

Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists were the U.S.’s highest spenders. “Before the pandemic, 2.6 million visitors a year spent about $15 billion. There wasn’t another market anywhere close,” said U.S. Travel Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman at the Skift Global Forum. “This is a market that in many senses will make or break what we do on the international side.”

Travel Technology

Global Brands Gravitate to Sphere’s Exosphere for Las Vegas Grand Prix

1 week ago

This weekend, F1 fans can expect a visually enthralling experience, as custom real-time content tracks across the world’s largest LED screen of the Sphere, as part of the official broadcast for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Global brands off the mark with Sphere advertising campaigns during the major sporting event include GoogleAmerican ExpressAston MartonPuma, and Mercedes Benz.

In the lead-up to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, a highlight of the 2023 Formula One World Championship, Race Week commenced on Wednesday with The Netflix Cup, marking the first live-cued content on the Exosphere, the 1.2 million LED lights on the exterior of the Sphere. This Saturday’s race will continue to see exclusive Sphere Studios content for the race.

Located along the race track, Sphere’s Exosphere will offer unique viewing angles, including an aerial perspective, ensuring an immersive experience for millions of F1 enthusiasts worldwide.

However, as a precautionary measure for drivers, race organizers have reportedly banned red, yellow, and blue from appearing across the Sphere’s exterior. These colors have been identified as distracting for drivers. It is not ideal for Google, whose logo features those exact colors, but the ban applies explicitly while the race is in action.

The integration of technology, sports, and marketing on such a grand scale is set to redefine the Grand Prix experience, according to Joel Fisher, Executive Vice President of Marquee Events and Operations for MSG Entertainment.

Beyond the color block across the 1.2 million LED lights on the exterior of the Sphere, all 20 drivers and their cars will be showcased, along with F1 helmets, creating a backdrop for fan photos. Fans can also look forward to seeing themselves featured on this gigantic screen, according to the organizers.

“This is the inaugural year for both Sphere and the Grand Prix in Las Vegas. We are ready to showcase Sphere to our global audience via F1 – both in person in Las Vegas and watching around the world – demonstrating the unparalleled technological and creative capabilities of the Exosphere,” said Fisher.


Dubai Events Deal with Severe Thunderstorms and Floods

1 week ago

Intense storms and flash floods in the Middle East city of Dubai this Friday morning have halted its events calendar. Across the country, storms began at around 4am local time, with Dubai Police and other authorities issuing public safety warnings shortly after. The National Centre of Meteorology issued orange and yellow alerts nationwide, cautioning residents about potentially dangerous weather conditions for outdoor activities.

One affected event is the Dubai Watch Week, which began on Thursday. It is held in the emirate’s upmarket financial district and serves as the springboard for lavish Swiss watchmakers to announce new pieces.

Attendees this morning were stuck in nearby hotels, namely, Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria and Marriott’s Ritz-Carlton, told not to leave over safety concerns. For now, Dubai Watch Week organizers have said the event is on hold, but the hotels have re-opened their doors, Skift has been told by those staying.

Founded and organized by local watch retail gaint Ahmed Seddiqi & Son, Dubai Watch Week is now in its sixth edition, drawing in close to 20,000 attendees comprising brand representatives, journalists and horology enthusiasts.

Dubai Watch Week runs until Monday, November 20.

Dubai Airshow Goes Ahead

Dubai’s other major event of the week, the Dubai Airshow, is going ahead as planned for its final day this Friday. Far larger than Dubai Watch Week, the airshow pulls in around 100,000 attendees and serves as the place for airlines to sign multi-billion-dollar orders.

In a statement on social media, the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said: “The Ministry calls on private sector companies across the UAE to apply flexible work patterns, 17th November, given the current weather conditions.”

“Necessary measures need to be taken by companies to ensure outdoor work, which is necessary to resume, complies with the occupational health and safety requirements.”

Dubai Flights Diverted

The weather has also had an impact on flights into Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest hubs.

“As of 10am UAE time (0600 GMT), 13 inbound flights were diverted to neighboring airports while six outbound flights were canceled,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters. “Dubai Airports is working closely with airlines, control authorities and other service partners at DXB to minimize any inconvenience to our customers.”

*This story has been updated to include Dubai Airport flight delays due to Friday’s severe weather.


IDEAS: One&Only Debuts in Greece with the Opening of Aesthesis

1 week ago

One&Only has made its debut in Greece with the opening of One&Only Aesthesis, the first of the brand’s two new European locations to open.

Situated within a 21-hectare beach and forest reserve that overlooks the Aegan Sea, the resort has been built to ‘redefine the concept of al fresco living,’ and pays homage to mid-century design by using architectural elements that utilize local marble, native timbers and woven leather details, according to a release from the group.

Credit: One&Only Aesthesis

The resort features a collection of rooms, bungalows, suites and villas that have been built to make the most of the outdoor living spaces on offer, which includes a number of pools, gardens, and even outdoor showers and fireplaces.

Credit: One&Only Aesthesis

One&Only Aesthesis also features the first Guerlain Spa to open Greece, thanks to a partnership with the French beauty house, alongside a number of food & beverage offerings – including two from MICHELIN-star chefs.

“The opening of One&Only Aesthesis marks an important milestone and a significant achievement for Kerzner International as we continue our strategic expansion into Europe and key markets around the world,” says Philippe Zuber, Chief Executive Officer, Kerzner International. 

“Our exceptional one-off collection of ultra-luxury One&Only Resorts and Private Homes exist hand-in-hand with the natural landscape, the sustainable use of resources, and a positive impact on local communities – pillars that are embedded in One&Only Aesthesis. Together with Grivalia Hospitality, we are excited to be the driving force behind the renaissance of Glyfada and the Athenian Riviera.”

See Phillipe Zuber speak on-stage at the Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on December 14.

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.

Tour Operators

TUI Teams Up With National Geographic to Expand Small-Group Day Tours

2 weeks ago

European tour operator TUI’s tours and activities division, TUI Musement, has expanded its collaboration with National Geographic Expeditions, launching 40 new NatGeo Day Tours. 

Previously only available as part of a cruise itinerary package, travelers can now independently book a mix of one-day and half-day itineraries. According to a partnership update released by TUI, these NatGeo tours specialize in beach and city experiences in destinations like Barcelona, Cancun, Crete, Paphos, New York, Naples, and Tenerife.

The tours, led by National Geographic-trained guides, are conducted in small groups of about 8 to 15 people and follow the TUI groups’ Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria, it said.

NatGeo tours include exploring Miró’s diverse artworks and creations in Barcelona, Spain, guided by architectural and art restoration specialists in the Homage to Miró experience. Another example is embarking on coral reef conservation with marine biologists and oceanographers in Cancun, Mexicoas part of the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in the Unveiling the Importance of Reef Restoration tour.      

An exclusive and educational sailing and snorkeling NatGeo tour to identify bleached corals and understand reef restoration and sustainable marine practices. Source: TUI Musement.

Peter Ulwahn, CEO of TUI Musement, previously shared TUI’s tours and activities strategy as a key growth sector with Skift. He noted that city destination experiences offered as shore excursions notably increased along with the group’s cruise sector revival, seeing a 69% year-on-year growth for TUI’s cruise products between April and June this year, compared to the same period in 2022.

The booking of TUI Collections in city destinations has seen a 90% increase year-on-year. From October 2022 to September 2023, TUI Musement facilitated over 1 million direct bookings, added Ulwahn.

“National Geographic Day Tours are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. These are carefully crafted tours that tell stories of their destinations, honoring the National Geographic legacy and providing top quality, authentic, local experiences,” said Ulwahn.