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Marriott's New Reservations System Could Be Its Secret Weapon in Direct Booking Wars

skift Inc. ·17 October 2018
Merging three different loyalty programs into one isn't the only tricky technological feat that Marriott International has had to pull off following its $13.3 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.A major part of that loyalty integration involved transferring all of Starwood's hotels onto Marriott's reservations system which, as some industry experts have pointed out, was more outdated than Starwood's system.Now, however, there's confirmation that not only will all of Marriott's more than 6,700 properties soon be operating on the same reservations system -- but they will all soon be on the company's brand-new system that will allow the hotel company to enable guests to choose their own room, among other features.

How Alibaba-Backed Shiji Is Expanding Its Tech Sales to Hotels Outside of China

skift Inc. ·16 October 2018
Shiji, the hospitality tech giant of China, has been expanding its global push since February -- when it announced a $486 million investment from e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba Group.Shiji, which has 20 foreign subsidiaries, has in the past month acquired StayNTouch, a hotel tech services provider, and Concept Software Systems, a retail tech provider for golf, spa, and other activities. A few months ago, it bought out the remaining shareholders of SnapShot, an analytics dashboard.Shiji recently disclosed its backing of Kalibri Labs, a data-based hotel revenue consultancy. It has been rumored to have invested in Leonardo, a company that helps hotels manage their visual assets, such as photos of rooms.

SBE CEO Warns of the Wal-Mart Risk in Hospitality

skift Inc. ·12 October 2018
Is it really possible for hotel companies to retain creativity or innovation the bigger they get?That's something the entire hotel industry seems to be asking itself these days, especially in the wake of a number of mergers and acquisitions -- one of which was announced just this Monday when Hyatt broke news of its $480 million acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality.Another deal that closed this week was the one between lifestyle hotel, nightclub, and restaurant company SBE Entertainment Group and French hospitality company AccorHotels on Tuesday. AccorHotels paid $319 million for a 50 percent stake in SBE, and SBE will continue to be run independently by founder and CEO Sam Nazarian. SBE's brands include SLS, Delano, Mondrian, Umami Burger, Katsuya, and Hyde.

Behind TripAdvisor's Renewed Push to Inspire Travelers Beyond Just Making Sales

skift Inc. ·28 September 2018
TripAdvisor debuted earlier this month a test for consumers of a travel-specific feed of personalized recommendations from friends, social media influencers, and publishers. Already, 750 content providers have signed up.The new feature aims to answer a key question -- "How do we lay the groundwork to delight the traveler for all phases of the trip truly?" -- according to TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer, speaking at Skift Global Forum on Thursday in New York City.While the company's reviews and ratings are already influential, Kaufer said, the challenge now is "how do we take it to the next level to make sure a recommendation is relevant to you [the individual user]?"

Google's Conflicted Travel Strategy Pushes Forward

skift Inc. ·28 September 2018
Google has a unique status in the online travel marketplace.On one hand, it acts as a gatekeeper and shopping environment for consumers around the world as they research and plan future trips. On the other, it sells ads to travel companies while encouraging them to pay up to receive preferred placement on its booking tools.As a marketer, dealing with Google is crucial because of the sheer volume of users that use its services.The company's dual role in the sector can cause some trepidation with its partners, who aren't quite sure if its goals as a travel seller are separate from its enormous advertising business.

Ian Schrager on How Hotels Get Technology Wrong

skift Inc. ·28 September 2018
Technology remains the new frontier but plenty of hotels are still getting it wrong, according to the man who pioneered the boutique hotel movement in the United States.Ian Schrager, who founded the Morgans Hotel Group and has launched a number of other brands, said hotels are too focussed on showing gadgets rather than using technology to make things easier for guests."I think technology is the future but not mood boards in the lobby, and not iPads in every room but technology that really makes everyone's stay at a hotel easier, cheaper and there is a reason for it," Schrager at Skift Global Forum on Thursday in New York City.

How Hotels Need to Balance the Amenities We Want Versus Those We Actually Use

skift Inc. ·21 September 2018
Our anticipated use of certain hotel amenities is often greater than our actual use, according to the findings of a new study from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration's Center for Hospitality Research.More often than not, researchers found, guests expect to use certain amenities such as an alarm clock, spa, and in-room dining than they actually do use them. And for other amenities, such as lobby seating, valet parking, and concierge service, guests tend to underestimate their use.To calculate anticipated versus actual use of amenities, researchers gathered data from a total of 724 guests who stayed at 33 different hotels in the U.S., operated by six different hotel brands that are all owned by the same undisclosed hotel company. The six brands included one upscale hotel brand, two upper upscale brands, and three luxury hotel brands.

Airbnb for Work Brings Meeting Spaces and Experiences to Business Travelers

skift Inc. · 6 September 2018
Airbnb for Work has touted strong growth since its launch a few years ago, when it was originally known as Airbnb for Business, providing better tools for companies to manage their spending and track where their travelers are.A partnership announced late last year with WeWork allowing Airbnb customers to buy a day pass to a workspace seemed to show Airbnb is looking to a partnership model to help flesh out its business travel offerings beyond homes.Starting today, though, Airbnb will add its Airbnb Experience products into the booking process for both travelers and those booking travel for others. It will also curate appropriate home listings into "playlists" of spaces ready for meetings outside global city centers.

Anbang Spiffs Up Waldorf Astoria to Reopen It in 2021

skift Inc. ·23 August 2018
As Anbang's financial struggles continue, its best bet remains getting the Waldorf Astoria modernized and open for business. As the renovations drag on, though, one has to wonder if Hilton will simply open a new property in New York City. Anbang Insurance Group Co. is moving forward with renovations to Manhattan's Waldorf Astoria amid expectations the embattled Chinese company will sell other U.S. hotels. The insurer, which began demolition work at the Waldorf last November, has signed a contract with Aecom Tishman to cover the second phase of the project, according to a statement Tuesday. The hotel is expected to reopen in 2021 with about 350 condos, 350 hotel rooms and architecturally preserved public spaces, Anbang said. Anbang's plans for the famed Park Avenue property has been fodder for speculation ever since the company acquired it for $1.95 billion, a record price for a U.S. hotel. Questions about the Waldorf's future have only increased as Chinese companies face government pressure to reverse debt-fueled buying sprees and return capital invested overseas. Anbang has held talks to sell a collection of luxury hotels that it bought from Blackstone Group LP in 2016, Bloomberg has reported.

Meet the Hospitality CEO Who Embraces Airbnb -

skift Inc. ·18 July 2018
Even as more hotel companies like Marriott, Hyatt, and AccorHotels are entering the homesharing space, the traditional hotel industry has generally been at odds with the homesharing giant Airbnb.But for one hospitality CEO, Airbnb isn't a foe -- it's a partner, and a crucial key player that can help him and his industry -- the serviced apartment sector -- continue to grow.Larry Korman, president of Philadelphia-based AKA and co-CEO of Korman Communities, described his own brand, AKA, as one that "balances the intimate services of the boutique hotel with the spaciousness and comfort of a luxury condominium." But he said it can often be challenging to not only distinguish the differences between serviced residences and other types of accommodations, but to also have consumer awareness of the category.

Is Luxury Hospitality Guilty of Cultural Appropriation? -

skift Inc. ·18 July 2018
We have to at least ask.Luxury hospitality companies can make hundreds or thousands of dollars off their culturally immersive experiences but how much of that is going back to the communities and cultures they are honoring--or appropriating based on who you talk to--is harder to measure.For example, when Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa introduces Slow Beauty' wellness retreats, including a workshop on the health benefits of Mayan-inspired rituals and a Shaman ceremony on the beach, does the luxury hospitality brand owe something to the culture or the people that these new and expensive wellness offerings originate from?It is a paradox that presents itself again and again in the spas, dining rooms and meticulously decorated guest rooms at luxury properties worldwide - especially in today's age of immersive travel.

Video: Booking CMO Says Brand Marketing Has Limits -

skift Inc. · 3 July 2018
Pepijn Rijvers isn't a "mad man" -- or one of the slick, nattily suited advertising salesmen from the TV series Mad Men. "We're fairly rational in how we invest," said Rijvers, the chief marketing officer of, when he spoke on April 26 in Berlin at Skift Forum Europe. Pepijn Rijvers acknowledged that an increase in brand marketing is part of's mix. But he said he found brand marketing to have limited usefulness relative to other options.

Rethinking Travel Marketing for an Era of Infinite Customer Touchpoints - skift

skift Inc. · 2 July 2018
Today, nearly everything in this ever-expanding omnichannel travel environment is a new opportunity to connect with customers. It's not only social media and mobile devices that are expanding the landscape. The reality is that screens and customer touch points are showing up everywhere: in hotel rooms, on airplanes and at airports, on smart watches, and even on slot machines. Each of these emerging channels represents a "blank canvas" where travel brands can engage with travelers and help them along on their journey.Yet too many travel businesses are not currently set up to support this evolution. Instead, they are stuck using legacy methods of building marketing campaigns around specific channels or devices. In fact, when a brand develops a channel-specific campaign without integrating it with other efforts, they miss the chance to create the type of holistic, seamless experiences that are essential to meet the expectations of today's consumers.To escape this trap, travel providers need to rethink how they design, execute and measure campaigns. Rather than asking "What is the right channel for our campaign?," they should instead ask themselves, "What isn't a channel for our campaign?" More than likely, the answer is very little.

AccorHotels Considers Buying Stake in Air France-KLM

skift Inc. · 4 June 2018
AccorHotels is considering buying a minority stake in Air France-KLM, the hotel company confirmed Sunday."AccorHotels confirms having resumed its reflections on the matter, being at very early stage of assessing the feasibility and potential terms and conditions which will be discussed with Air France-KLM in due time," the company said in a statement.French newspaper Les Echos reported that the French government is contemplating selling its 14.3 percent stake in Air France-KLM, and that AccorHotels is interested in buying it.

Luxury Hospitality Embraces Transience - skift

skift Inc. ·17 May 2018
changing consumer habits around the sector. A temporary hotel doesn't sound like the most desirable place for a high-end traveler to stay. For many, the idea of luxury is entwined with the historic. And historic, by its very definition, means something being in a place for a very, very long time. But as you've heard us say before, that's the old way of thinking about things. Luxury is more and moreabout exclusivity, and what could be more exclusive than a property that only has a fleeting existence?

Oracle Hospitality Stumbled in Micros Integration But Says It Has Recovered -

skift Inc. ·11 September 2017
Three years ago, business software maker Oracle acquired Micros, a hotel and restaurant technology company, for $5.3 billion in cash.Micros was the market leader. More hotels used Micros's software to check in and check out guests than any other company's reservation management software. For more than two decades its servers hummed under the front desks and in the back offices at tens of thousands of properties worldwide.One of the knocks against Micros' hotel software was that it was antiquated. One hotelier called it "a DOS pig with lipstick," referring to the 1980s Microsoft disk operating system for computers.

Skift Announces Final Line-Up of Speakers and Sessions for Skift Global Forum

skift Inc. · 8 September 2017
Skift Inc., the largest travel industry intelligence and marketing platform, today announced the final list of confirmed speakers and sessions for its flagship event, Skift Global Forum. The annual conference, one of the most anticipated in the travel industry, will take place at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, Sept. 26-27, 2017."Skift Global Forum 2017 will be the best creative brain food in travel all year," said Rafat Ali, CEO and Founder of Skift. "Since starting Skift five years ago, I have clearly seen the largest consumer and tech changes converge in travel, and what's happening here has lessons for other industries around the globe. Attendees at this year's Forum will be best prepared for what's happening next in the world's largest industry, and be inspired by travel's top visionaries and disruptors as they share their visions for the future."Skift Global Forum, now in its fourth year, is the largest creative business event in the global travel industry. This year's speaker line-up features one of the biggest gatherings of CEOs and founders in the travel industry - including eight of travel's sharpest executives and C-level women leaders - at public giants including Facebook, The Priceline Group, Marriott International, TripAdvisor, Hilton, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line; high-profile start-ups such as Airbnb and Vacasa; and travel and hospitality icons such as Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, Union Square Hospitality Group, Delta Air Lines, Tourism Australia, and more.The Skift Global Forum has become what media, speakers and attendees have called the "TED of travel," and is the first conference focused on the people creating and defining the future of travel: top marketers, strategists, and technologists. Topicsand speakers are carefully curated to inspire attendees about the business and creative potential of the industry, and to inform them on changing trends across sectors, geographies, and functional silos.Speakers at this year's conference include Edward Bastian, CEO, Delta Air Lines; Glenn Fogel, CEO, The Priceline Group; Rene Redzepi, Chef & Co-Owner, Noma; Arne Sorenson, President & CEO, Marriott International, Inc.; Stephen Kaufer, CEO, TripAdvisor; Richard Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; Geoff Ballotti, President & CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group; Keith Barr, CEO, InterContinental Hotels Group; Danny Meyer, CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group; Christopher Nassetta, President & CEO, Hilton; Nathan Blecharczyk, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Airbnb; Mark D'Arcy, Chief Creative Officer, Facebook; Lina Annab, Jordanian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan; Julian Guerrero Orozco FLS, Vice President of Tourism ProColombia, Colombia; Bonny Simi, President, JetBlue Technology Ventures; Kathy Tan Mayor, CMO, Carnival Cruise Line; and more. The entire line-up can be found here: sponsors include Accenture, Adobe, AIG, Amadeus Airlines, American Express, Away Luggage, Button, Criteo, Fareportal, Hobo Bags, HotelTonight, ITP, KDS, Luggage Hero, Mapbox, ProColombia, Simulmedia, Smartling, Sojern, Spring Place, Tastemade, The Points Guy, Travelsify, Visit Mexico and Visit Jordan.For more information, to register, or to become a sponsor, visit or email

Skift Global Forum New York

skift Inc. ·19 July 2017
The fourth annual Skift Global Forum is officially less than 3 months away and if you weren't already excited, you are about to be!That's because today we are excited to announce that we are offering one lucky fan the opportunity to fly to New York City this September to attend Skift Global Forum -- all for FREE!That's right! Now through 8/4, enter your name and email address on our Experience NYC How Skift Does giveaway page for your chance to win the ultimate Skift Global Forum package (see official rules below).Our world-class prize includes:A round trip flight to NYC2 nights at The Empire Hotel1 ticket to Skift Global ForumPriority Pass Standard Membership plus 4 Airport Lounge VisitsENTER NOWWe teamed up with 5 incredible partners including HospitalityNet, Travel Daily USA, Travel+SocialGood, Priority Pass and Wanderful to make this happen, and we couldn't thank them enough for their support of Skift Global Forum.By entering, you agree to our official rules. For any questions, email

What Next-Level Hotels Have in Common: 5 Podcast Takeaways -

skift Inc. · 5 July 2017
Our most recent podcast centered around the ways extraordinary hotels are trying to meet the demands of discerning travelers: with an emphasis on local food, curated experiences, thoughtful design, and even a touch of quirkiness. We heard from some of the pros who specialize in 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 interviewed Claus Sendlinger, CEO and founder of Design Hotels.

Complete Oral History of Boutique Hotels |

skift Inc. ·21 March 2017
Nearly 40 years after the birth of the boutique hotels movement in the U.S., more than two dozen founders and key players exclusively tell Skift how it all happened in this 60,000 word deep dive into how it transformed the way we travel. Even if you're not quite sure how to define exactly what a "boutique hotel" is -- and you're not alone, trust us -- chances are you instinctively know one when you see one. Today, nearly 40 years after Bill Kimpton opened his first hotel and Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell opened theirs just three years later, boutique hotels remain an instrumental, and often essential, influence on the way we experience hotels, and the way we travel.

What Marriott Learned From Starwood's Loyalty and Digital Expertise |

skift Inc. ·20 February 2017
Marriott International, like every other hotel company on the planet, is taking a very intense look at loyalty these days, and asking themselves the following questions: Namely, how do we define it? How do we build it? How do we keep it? And specific to Marriott, there's also the very big challenge of eventually merging three different loyalty programs -- Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards -- by next year. With the company's newest updates for the Marriott mobile app, we're getting a tiny glimpse into what the company is planning to do -- essentially trying to personalize the guest experience with the help of technology.

Marriott's New Two Bellmen Film Is Targeted Squarely at Asian Consumers |

skift Inc. ·24 January 2017
The latest installment of Marriott's Two Bellmen short film series, showcasing the JW Marriott Hotels brand, was publicly premiered in Korea earlier today.Following the first two videos produced at JW properties in Los Angeles and Dubai, the extended 35-minute Two Bellmen Three was shot on location at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul.

Priceline Group's New CEO Is Veteran Merger Guru Glenn Fogel |

skift Inc. ·16 December 2016
As we reported in October would be the outcome, the Priceline Group today named Glenn Fogel its new CEO after an eight-month search.With Fogel, 54, ascending from his longtime position as the Group's executive vice president and head of worldwide strategy and planning to the CEO position, effective January 1, Interim CEO Jeff Boyd transitions from non-executive chairman to executive chairman.

Ctrip Needed and Wanted Metasearch, So It Got Skyscanner |

skift Inc. ·25 November 2016
The timing of Ctrip's acquisition of Skyscanner could not have come at a more appropriate time for Skift's research team. In our most recent report published just this Tuesday, we analyzed every aspect of the current metasearch ecosystem. The business model, the technology, the players. Get your copy: The 2017 Outlook on Metasearch in Travel. Here's our earliest reaction to the acquisition: Ctrip's acquisition of Skyscanner should not have come as a surprise when we consider the Chinese giant's rising global ambitions in online travel. The other two big kids on the block, Priceline and Expedia, already have their meta darlings Kayak and Trivago. But Ctrip is already the powerhouse in China. It's buyout of Expedia's share in eLong back in May of 2015 and recent other acquisitions and partnerships with other meta players including Qunar assured its dominance over the Chinese traveler.

Expedia Begins Revealing Its Big Ambitions in Hotel Services |

skift Inc. ·18 October 2016
but the new product is mostly interesting because it is emblematic, although a small element, of the online travel agency's huge ambitions in providing new business services to the hotel industry.And getting a greater foothold in the hotel industry as a service provider is a way for Expedia to increase its influence, gain a wider audience and offset the hundreds of millions of dollars the company invests annually ($830 million in 2015) in its wide-ranging technology platforms.

Interview: How Marriott Will Position Its 30 Hotel Brands |

skift Inc. ·14 October 2016
When Marriott's acquisition of Starwood officially closed last month, making it the world's largest hotel company by number of rooms, Marriott inherited 11 hotel brands to add to its portfolio of 19, for a grand total of 30 brands.That's a lot of hotel brands for one company but, even so, Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson has been adamant in saying that all 30 will be sticking around, at least for the foreseeable future.So now comes the hard part: Just what is Marriott planning to do to make sure each one of those 30 brands is distinct enough from one another, and all the other hotel brands out there?


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