Travel This Week — What To Expect: Expedia-Hyatt Showdown Looms But a Deal Is Likely

Hyatt Hotels

Hyatt is negotiating a new contract with Expedia. Pictured is Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hyatt Hotels

Skift Take: We are not expecting Armageddon as the Expedia-Hyatt talks come down to the wire. Hyatt wants a fair deal, and Expedia stands to gain if it can retain the broadest depth of hotel content possible. The devil will be in the details but we expect champagne glasses to be raised this week.

— Dennis Schaal

This could be a pivotal week in online travel agency and hotel relations as Monday is the deadline for Expedia and Hyatt to reach a new distribution agreement. Meanwhile, Trivago is running on all cylinders — or more specifically, its advertising is seemingly playing on every TV channel you turn on — and elsewhere travel demand on a global scale for airlines, hotels, and tech companies appears to be having a very healthy moment.

Here’s what’s going on in Travel This Week — What To Expect:

Judgment Day For Expedia and Hyatt

I expect that the Expedia-Hyatt deal will get done, and we will hear about the successful conclusion of the talks sooner rather than later. Anything can happen before a new contract is signed, but I’m hearing that there will be no monumental crisis, no break in the Expedia-Hyatt relationship.

Both Expedia and Hyatt were being coy — in other words, not talking much to the press or even to Hyatt property owners — in the days leading up to the end of their existing distribution agreement on Monday. Hyatt is looking for a contract that doesn’t leave it too disadvantaged versus big-kid and bulked-up Marriott and others when it comes to the compensation Hyatt must dole out to Expedia.

You might see these likely scenarios over the next few days: An announcement of a new agreement and how the Expedia-Hyatt partnership has never been niftier, and that’s an outcome that I’m hearing is the most likely. On the other hand, there is always the possibility of word leaking out about an extension in the contract talks; or Hyatt property listings suddenly becoming like a proverbial needle in a haystack on Expedia sites.

If Hyatt properties disappear on Expedia en masse, it will be interesting to see if individual Hyatt property owners buck the trend, defy their parent, and strike unilateral deals with Expedia. That could very well happen.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi didn’t mention the word “Hyatt” when asked about Expedia’s various hotel negotiations Thursday during an earnings call, but said: “I’m not going to characterize specific negotiations one way or the other, other than saying obviously having the best hotel supply and the greatest breadth and depth of hotel supply is of real interest to us. At the same time, as we add more and more hotels and properties into our marketplace, the import of any single hotel or single brand grows less. So we feel pretty good about our position.”

He continued: “And frankly, we feel good about our production for our partners. It continues to grow. We feel good about our share. We’re becoming a more important part of our hotel partners’ kind of portfolio and business on a global basis. And we will look to balance both margins and growth and supply, and we’ll do so on a go-forward basis.”

Hyatt quietly signed a new deal with in June as an Expedia insurance policy in case things go nuclear this week. Hyatt will release its second quarter earnings on Thursday, so we should definitely get a feel for whether push came to shove by then.

Boom Times For Travel?

As more travel companies, including Trivago, Hyatt, Wyndham, Red Lion, Choice, Sabre and others announce earnings this week, you can expect reports of strong travel demand on virtually a global basis. That’s because last week Expedia reported strong travel trends, including ample room night growth, “in every major region.” Air-France-KLM  disclosed that Asian and U.S. tourists were returning to France after the terrorism woes of recent years. And global distribution system Amadeus in Madrid indicated that its airline bookings, particularly in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, were flying high.

There are exceptions, of course. Tourism authorities in Ireland, for example, are saying that visitations from currency-beleagured UK travelers post-Brexit are down in the dumps.

IPO Done, Trivago Can Keep Downplaying Profits

We already know from Expedia Inc.’s second quarter results that subsidiary Trivago, the hotel search engine, which will report earnings on Friday, is continuing on its growth tear.

Expedia has already reported that Trivago achieved a milestone in the second quarter: The hotel-metasearch site exceeded $1 billion in revenue in the trailing 12 months for the first time. While Trivago saw its revenue jump 64 percent in the second quarter to $328 million, its profits fell 78 percent to $2 million.

Now that the Trivago IPO is out of the way and the company doesn’t have to be as concerned about showing potential investors a profit, it can focus on top-line growth — and its founders believe that this opportunity will be there for years to come.

More Dirt from Red Lion on Suit Against Hard Rock?

As with other hotel chains that report earnings this week, we should hear more tidbits from Red Lion when it releases results on Thursday on its efforts to drive bookings to its websites — in Red Lion’s unorthodox case, with an assist from Expedia. But we’ll also be interested in leaning more about parent company Red Lion Hotels Corp.’s lawsuit against Hard Rock International, alleging theft of intellectual property.

The banter from Red Lion hasn’t risen nearly to the level of Anthony Scaramucci versus Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, but Red Lion officials have indeed been surprisingly candid about their gripes.

What’s Next for Airbnb?

Skift hospitality editor Deanna Ting will take a look at Airbnb’s journey, whether it is on an inevitable road toward an IPO, and what it all means for everyone involved at Airbnb and the wider hotel industry. Watch out for her feature later this week.

Wyndham Business Lines and Loyalty

When Wyndham releases its financial results on Thursday, we’ll be looking to see what progress it is making in leveraging its three divisions, namely hotels, timeshares and vacation rentals. And what new developments are in store for its loyalty program, which the hotelier has been vehemently working on scaling? Deanna Ting

Royal Caribbean To Shed Light on China and Cuba

Royal Caribbean Cruises releases financial results on Tuesday. The call should provide an update on the closely watched China cruise market, which has been experiencing a slowdown amid tensions with South Korea. We also hope to hear what kind of demand the operator is seeing for Cuba trips in the wake of the Trump administration’s recently announced restrictions on travel to the island. Because cruise lines are still allowed to visit Cuba, some operators have suggested they might have an advantage.

Sabre CEO Sean Menke’s Footprint

Sabre plans to reveal its second quarter results Tuesday, and this marks a half year since CEO Sean Menke as been running the show. The industry will be watching for hints about what kinds of changes the new guy is making to the company.

What’s the progress on the rollout of Sabre’s new desktop reservations systems for travel agents? Is Sabre making inroads into any particular geographic markets, like India, for example? Are there any hints about trends in corporate travel demand? Perhaps there will even be an analyst question or two about how the data breach at Sabre’s hospitality division impacted the company.

Skift Editors Sean O’Neill, Hannah Sampson, and Deanna Ting contributed to this report.

Read the rest of our Travel This Week — What To Expect posts here.

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Are Aviation’s Global Hubs in Persian Gulf Losing Their Strategic Advantage?


Gulf carriers have had rough-going lately. Pictured is a July 27, 2008 photo showing the arrival of Emirates’ first Airbus A380 aircraft at Dubai International Airport. Emirates

Skift Take: The issue is whether the decline in the performance of Persian Gulf carriers is irreversible or an aberration stemming from laptop bans and Saudi-led boycotts. It’s difficult to see how these airports’ geographic advantages just melt away.

— Dennis Schaal

Once upon a time, airlines based in the Persian Gulf were making all the running in the global aviation market.

Propped up by state owners that didn’t care too much about profits and blessed with a unique geographical position from which a single flight can reach almost every inhabited spot on the planet, Emirates, Etihad Airways PJSC and Qatar Airways Ltd. seemed to have the world at their feet.

Emirates was expanding capacity at the rate of 30 million or so available seat kilometers per year — roughly equivalent to adding an AirAsia Bhd. to its network every 12 months — and striking deals with weakened rivals such as Qantas Airways Ltd. to win more long-haul traffic.

Etihad was even busier, taking equity stakes in more than half a dozen airlines to build a rival to the traditional aviation groups of OneWorld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance — one that carried almost 127 million passengers last year.

Qatar Airways was moving in the same direction, becoming the biggest shareholder in IAG SA, the owner of British Airways, and South America’s largest operator, Latam Airlines Group SA. For good measure, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund even bought a 20 percent stake in Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd., owner of the busiest airport for international passengers after Dubai.

With remarkable speed, that advance is falling into disarray.

Etihad announced Thursday a $1.87 billion loss for its 2017 fiscal year, driven by massive writedowns in the value of those equity partners and its aircraft fleet. Even by the standards of the aviation industry, where fleet impairments can often spark dramatic numbers of this sort, that’s a giant of a loss.

Qatar Airways, meanwhile, could lose 30 percent of its revenue due to the blockade of its home country by its Arab neighbors, according to Frost & Sullivan, a consultancy, while Emirates in May reported its first annual profit decline in five years.

There are short- and long-term factors driving this. U.S. airlines, revived by a wave of domestic consolidation and seeking payback for the decades when Gulf carriers kept them on the back foot on international routes, have been using the government to exact revenge.

Restrictions on travel from Muslim-majority countries and a ban on laptops from Middle Eastern airports — the latter finally lifted in the past month, thanks to enhanced security measures — have chilled the activities of the Gulf carriers into the U.S. Etihad scrapped flights to San Francisco last month and Emirates has cut 25 weekly services to the country.

While those crises, and the blockade on Qatar, may gradually pass, it’s the longer-term picture that’s more worrying.

Delta/China Eastern stakes in Air France

Consider the other big aviation news Thursday. Delta Air Lines Inc. and China Eastern Airlines Corp. paid about 751 million euros ($876 million) to each take 10 percent stakes in Air France-KLM, with the European group using some of the cash to buy a 31 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. Alitalia SpA, which counts Etihad as a 49 percent investor and was declared insolvent in May, will also be brought into the joint venture.

This sort of new alliance — cemented by market power on the big bilateral routes between the EU, the U.S. and China, and dominated by players in those markets — poses a profound threat to the vision of aviation’s future promulgated by the Gulf carriers.

A domestic market, after all, provides a formidable advantage for international carriers. Domestic passengers tend to pay more for each kilometer flown than international travelers, allowing the short-haul routes to subsidize the more competitive long-haul legs. They also provide feeder traffic so that planes from Chicago to London can be filled up with passengers ultimately traveling from Cincinnati to Glasgow, further improving profitability.

The Gulf carriers — all based in jurisdictions that are, in essence, city-states — lack that advantage. For most of the history of modern aviation, the geographical benefits of being global hub carriers has compensated for that handicap. That era, along with the double-decker jumbo jets that drove it, is now fading into the sunset with new aircraft that can fly further than their predecessors.

A future based on the power of the three big outbound tourism markets, rather than the strategic locations of global hubs, was always going to be challenging for the Gulf’s carriers. It could be arriving at the gate sooner than anyone expected.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

David Fickling is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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It Was a Car-Free Day in Turkmenistan To Promote Bikes

Associated Press

Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov decided that July 29, 2017 would be a virtually car-free day in most of the country in an effort to promote the use of bicycles. Associated Press

Skift Take: Without or without car traffic, Turkmenistan will soon host the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, an event that it hopes will jumpstart the country’s tourism industry.

— Dennis Schaal

The Central Asian country of Turkmenistan on Saturday banned most residents in its major cities from using their cars for a day in a bid to promote cycling and a healthy lifestyle.

Residents of the capital, Ashgabat, and regional cities were told not to use their vehicles between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday without express permission as the government staged mass cycle rides that were to include top officials.

The mayor’s office in Ashgabat called on residents to park their cars, saying “on all roads, only bicycles will be operating.” It wasn’t immediately clear what sanctions would be levied on those who did not abide by the request.

Many residents commuted to work on foot Saturday as temperatures reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 Celsius) in Ashgabat. The roads were completely deserted, barring rare ambulances and state-owned taxi cabs.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who was re-elected in February with over 97 percent of the vote, hailed “the importance and inspiring role of (the mass cycling event) in the life of the country” during a cabinet meeting, the state news agency reported.

Berdymukhamedov is frequently seen taking part in sports and fitness events, particularly horse-riding.

The cycling event coincided with 50 days until Turkmenistan hosts the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, an event which has previously been relatively low-key.

The ex-Soviet country, which has been largely closed to outsiders, sees the games as a key prestige event to kick-start its tourism industry.

This article was written by Alexander Vershinin from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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UK Lapton Ban Eased on Some Turkish Airlines Flights

Turkish Airlines

On some Turkish Airlines flights to the UK, travelers will now be able to have laptops in the cabin. Pictured, a business class passenger uses airline-supplied headphones. Turkish Airlines

Skift Take: Old laptop bans never die — they just fade away, apparently.

— Dennis Schaal

Britain has eased a ban on laptops and tablets in airline cabins, lifting the prohibition on some flights from Turkey.

In March, British authorities banned electronic devices larger than smartphones on direct flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The Department for Transport said Friday that the rule no longer applied on all flights to the U.K. from Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport, and on some flights from Izmir and Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

The changes apply to U.K.-bound flights operated by Turkish Airlines and the budget airline Pegasus.

The department says restrictions at other airports “will be lifted on a case-by-case basis once the U.K. government has verified that airlines have put in place alternative security measures.”

Britain’s ban came after the U.S. barred laptops in cabins on flights from 10 Mideast airports over concerns about explosives on planes. The ban has since been lifted for several airlines.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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A New Breed of French Hoteliers Has a Budget Response to Airbnb

Hotel Paradis

A public space in the Hotel Paradis in Paris, France. The hotel is one of a new breed of well-designed budget properties in the city. Hotel Paradis

Skift Take: A beautiful, well designed room in Paris for 150 euros a night? This might be an interesting counter to the rise of Airbnb in the city.

— Colin Nagy

For the past several years, the Paris hotel market had an acute gap. On one side of the market, there’s the beautiful, high end hotels: The newly refurbished Ritz, the Park Hyatt, a new Peninsula, a recently reopened Hotel de Crillon, Le Meurice, and countless others catering to those that don’t have to look too closely at the price.

Then, on the other there’s the smaller, mom and pop hotels and the cheaper, budget options in the city. The choice has largely been between beautiful and pricey, or affordable with terrible decor.

Airbnb has quickly filled the gap In the middle of the price spectrum, having grown exponentially to around 65,000 listings in Paris today. But, as with other cities, the platform is being cracked down on based on a Paris City Council decision making it mandatory as of December for people renting their apartments to register with the town hall.

The interesting opportunity lies in the detail oriented, yet affordable (think €150 a night) bucket, a space where Parisian hotelier Adrien Gloaguen has been investing his time and energy, creating a mini hospitality renaissance in the city. One that goes beyond the boutique hotel cliche into something more special and thoughtful. And one that squeezes incredible design details out of a value-minded budget.

Raised in Paris, Gloaguen is a self-taught hotelier who bought his first hotel right on the left bank after finishing his studies in 2004. “In this first hotel I had all roles: plumber, receptionist, doorman, he says. “I learned everything with this first hotel, and this experience was the best school.”

He then saw his first opportunity to meld design and a great price. His next hotel, the Hotel Paradis, was the blueprint that has since continued into two other hotels, The Panache, and recently the Bienvenue, which opened in June 2017.

On his start, Gloaguen says, “I wanted to create a hotel with a great design and great prices. This is what I tried to do with Hotel Paradis in 2011. Dorothee Meilichzon signed the design and rooms are around €120 a night. Before that, we only had the choice between beautiful hotels at very high prices or affordable hotels with terrible decoration.”

Design Forward

The rooms at his hotels are thoughtful, with beautiful fixtures, elegant lighting elements, and intentionally limited technology in the room. The common areas have a cozy, intimate and decidedly boutique feel, with a noticeable personal touch from the front desk staff.

He strongly believes that price constraints can be powerful and unique creative brief to talented designers, and believes in pushing them to achieve under strict parameters. Gloaguen says, “The designers I work with understand my project and work accordingly; the price constraint is something that has made the designers even more creative.”

And with Airbnb as a new reality, what are the primary differences in the experience or market? Gloaguen suggests that his hotels also need to serve as a hub for French cultural diplomacy. He thinks the hotel of not just a place to sleep, but to enable better experiences for visitors. So that clients are not lost in a city, they can be helped — and hipped — to interesting experiences that might not exactly appear on your Airbnb guest notes.

He doesn’t hold any ill will toward the platform, though, stating, “I’m not against Airbnb, I think they initiated a new way to travel — like car versus train — the users of one are not the users of the other.”

Gloaguen is optimistic about how special the Paris hospitality scene feels right now, “I totally think that people are tired of chains and of the standardization; they want a unique experience when they travel and this is what they get when they come to our hotels. They also want to be fully integrated in the Parisian lifestyle and this is how they feel when they stay in smaller hotels, they don’t feel like tourists anymore but like real Parisians.”

He cites the dynamism of the Paris independent hospitality scene. “Paris’ strength is that there are very few hotel groups, but a lot of small hotel owners that are all friends with each other and this is what makes it unique.”
This clubby, entrepreneurial approach, also seen in hotels such as the Grand Pigalle, and the Amour, is ushering a new hospitality tier. And as Paris tourism seeks to overcome terrorism fears and build from the positive glow of Macron and his desire for progress, Gloaguen and a new band of hoteliers are ushering in something new and interesting for the city.

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Expedia’s Heavy Hand Is Working for HomeAway and 8 Other Digital Trends This Week


Expedia is taking a heavy hand with vacation rental site HomeAway, forcing vacation rental owners to make their properties online bookable. Expedia

Skift Take: This week in digital news we looked at two leading online travel agencies. Expedia focused on HomeAway’s growth and Ctrip gave us an insider’s look at its operation and the Chinese market.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>While it’s interesting to note Skyscanner’s growth in hotels and car hire, commission from flight searches is still the source of most of its revenue. It seems likely that the company will look to take a bigger slice of the airline market rather than push too hard into other areas: Skyscanner Is Seeing Growth in Its Hotel and Car Rental Business

>>It’s surprising that Momondo Group CEO Hugo Burge would depart the moment the acquisition of his brands by Priceline Group would close. But Kayak’s promise of boosted marketing spend suggests the Momondo and Cheapflight brands will live on: Momondo CEO Exits Company as Acquisition by Kayak Closes

>>Trivago is bold to take on the giants and Expedia Inc. by debuting hotel data services, too. But its rate-shopping tool is better designed and possibly more powerful than what its rivals offer. Game on: Trivago Joins Rivals in Offering Hotels a Rate-Shopping Tool

>>Amazon’s subscription model — which has already disrupted music, groceries, and retail — could be the key to travel brands unlocking more revenue per customer. Here’s the lowdown on the latest tests: Business of Loyalty: What the Travel Industry Could Learn From Amazon Prime

>>This report represents the launch of our coverage of Asia, offering insights into both Ctrip and the online travel market more broadly: New Research Report: A Deep Dive Into Ctrip and the China Online Travel Market 2017

>>Expedia’s minority investment in Traveloka, a household name among travel players in Indonesia, makes sense. The company has struggled to gain share in Southeast Asia and a partnership can fill the gap: Expedia to Invest $350 Million in Indonesia Booking Site Traveloka

>>FabHotel’s franchise model joins peers OYO and Treebo in a promising effort to tame the famously fractured budget segment in India by applying consistent standards of service and marketing: FabHotels Secures $25 Million in a Goldman Sachs-Led Round: Travel Startup Funding This Week

>>Messaging was once the darling of the travel industry and for some brands it still is. But video continues to be what many brands are focusing on and monetizing that trend is a priority for Facebook: Facebook Video and Ads Are Driving Its Business More Than Messaging

>>Expedia doesn’t really care about the noise coming from some disgruntled vacation rental owners. The company is focused on scaling HomeAway’s vacation rental business, and having online bookable properties is the formula for the future: Expedia’s Heavy Hand Is Working for HomeAway

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On Skift Turning Five and the Magic of Showing Up Every Day

Skift Take: “Great nations start stoic and die epicurean.” Curiosity + Constraints, the Skift formula in the last five years.

— Rafat Ali

It’s our fifth birthday this week. Click on the logo for more big stories.

29,334 stories, 88 research reports, 64 podcasts, four conferences, five redesigns, seven newsletters, 350,000 newsletter subscribers, 783,000 social followers, 151 sponsors, five offices, four annual retreats, four marriages, five Skift babies and 41 employees later, Skift is five years old today.

1825 days later, we’re here.

Of all the achievements anyone can ever ask of a company from its infancy, your staying power — your mere survival — is the toughest of them. Let no one else tell you otherwise. Make it a media startup, and you’ve created the biggest odds against yourself right from the start.

Skift’s story as a company has been documented well enough, most of all by me in various essays I have written (this being the most quoted of them) and my countless tedious Tweets and Facebook updates. But the biggest reason for our success, five years later, is the undocumented and unsung part of it: We were all in, we showed up every day, with every ounce of energy we had and kept producing, over and over again. We kept building it, on our own, our own way.

The Skift launch post on July 30, 2012 started this way: “This, then, is where it starts. Every startup is a journey of thousands of serpentine miles, and Skift’s officially starts today.” The Skift Take on that story defined everything we have done since: “Skift it, we’re doing it!” And we kept on doing it. That’s all really there is to it.

Media is the simplest of businesses: As Curiosity + Constraints, I really think that is the formula in many ways. Leads to deliberate growth of us and the business.t. This is the only way I know how to build a media company, and that’s what we have done in the last five years.

For my co-founder Jason Clampet and I, the right lessons of the last five years are important to understand, to help frame the next five years of growth for all of us. The lessons we have learned in these 1,825 eventful days, call them media lessons or business lessons or just life lessons, these are the lessons we have lived.

The 5 Cs of the Skift Journey

  • Curiosity, driven by naïveté, will take you far. Curiosity is the precursor to creativity. The great part about travel is it is global and enmeshed in every sector of the world. If you’re curious about the world, you’re curious about travel’s place in it. We came in as the naive outsiders to the travel industry, with little knowledge about how we were supposed to cover the world’s largest sector when we started. Curiosity about the promise of travel and its effect on the world, that’s what we were trying to figure out since day one. We kept asking questions, naive or otherwise, and that has kept leading us down new paths.
  • Constraints are what keeps us on the path. Being a small company has meant always being short on resources. Less is better, less is deep, less is slow and deliberate, less is human, and humane. In many ways that has defined the ethos at Skift, and has kept the primacy of action over intent. Constraints — having less — has also means less panic about every new thing every other media company is chasing. We know what we’re good at and what we aren’t.
  • Competitors are worth ignoring completely. Assume all competition is crappy. Then ignore them. This may not work in other sectors, but it works very well in media. What got us here? The stellar quality of our editorial, nothing more, nothing less, either. In our case, it so happened that the competition’s editorial was jaded at best, in the terrible to average spectrum. And they had been such bad businesses that there was no point benchmarking our performance against any of them, and we surpassed most of them early on anyway. Our successes or failures have in no way been affected by anything competitors did or didn’t do.
  • Camaraderie among team. We hire decent friendly high-energy people — not rockstars, not huge egos — and give them meaning in their work. They see the tangible effects of their work on the industry we’re covering and that creates a feedback loop for them to create better and better work. We spend tons of time with each other, celebrate each other’s milestones big and small, and we do a lot of things together. We don’t create competition amongst our own people, not even in the sales team; we believe that grates away at the relationships. We are really, sincerely focused on diversity AND inclusion of our team, in all possible facets, and know that we are better off for it. We are really, sincerely interested in making the professional and personal lives of our people better, we believe that is really the reason why people stay with us long term. Only one person has willingly left Skift to join another job in the last 2.5 years, and that is in large part because we like each other, like being around each other.
  • Consistency of effort. Show up and produce, every day, day in, day out. Consistency, in right amounts every day matters a lot more than being consumed by work and work alone. The quality of our work is the end result of this consistency mixed with patience. That’s is the not-so-secret of our fecundity.

There is this extract from one of my favorite business books, “Small Giants” by Bo Burlingham, that perfectly explains what makes Skift “Skifty”, so to speak. It is a remarkably clear description of what a company mojo is, and in so many ways describes what we have created in these past 1,825 days:

“The answer, I believe, has more to do with the people than with the businesses. To me, the owners and leaders of these companies stand out for being remarkably in touch with, and focused on, what most of us would probably agree are the good things in life. By that, I mean that they are very clear in their own minds about what life has to offer at its best—in terms of exciting challenges, camaraderie, compassion, hope, intimacy, community, a sense of purpose, feelings of accomplishment, and so on—and they have organized their businesses so that they and the people they work with can get it. When outsiders come in contact with such a business, they can’t help but feel the attraction. The company is cool because what’s going on inside it is good, it’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s something you want to be associated with. From that perspective, mojo is more or less the business equivalent of charisma. Leaders with charisma have a quality that makes people want to follow them. Companies with mojo have a quality that makes people want to be part of them.”

At five years old, we are secure in our own mojo but never satisfied. Contentment, a word which should never be spoken, only spat, said a wise man in “Paris Trance.” Our goal is to continue to surprise and delight our subscribers, sponsors and the industry every day.

Thanks everyone — past and present Skift team and their families, Skift readers, Skift sponsor partners, and general well-wishers — for being part of our journey. We’re looking forward to the next 1,825 days, every day.

The Skift launch and anniversary posts over the years, in case you’re interested in reliving our progress:

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Ryanair Cares Less About Fares and 5 Other Aviation Trends This Week

Shawn Pogatchnik  / Associated Press

Ryanair is poised to do well as airfares in Europe come down. This is a Sept. 21, 2014 file photo of passengers as they exit a Ryanair flight at Dublin Airport. Shawn Pogatchnik / Associated Press

Skift Take: This week in aviation we discussed the state of low-cost flying. Ryanair is well poised to deal with declining airfares, but Spirit is struggling.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines aviation.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Fares look like they are coming down in Europe and Ryanair, thanks to its low-cost base and multiple revenue streams, is in a better position than most to weather the storm: Ryanair Cares Less About Fares Than You Might Think

>>JetBlue pulled back on its growth plans earlier this year, focusing instead on rolling out its improved Mint product. It seems to have paid off and the airline will be opportunistic about growing its fleet going forward: JetBlue Exceeds Second Quarter Expectations After Tweaking Growth Strategy

>>Alaska has been so well run that we expect its early transition hiccups to be ironed out before they cause United/Continental-level disasters: Alaska Airlines Plans to Launch in 30 More Markets by 2018

>>Spirit Airlines is hurting after a mixed quarter, and the outlook isn’t good for the rest of 2017. The company’s leadership, however, remains undeterred from its current strategy: Spirit Airlines Has Trouble Ahead as Airfares Decline and Competition Increases

>>Despite relinquishing his control, Richard Branson has been able to save face by negotiating the continuation of the Virgin Atlantic brand. At the same time a strengthened transatlantic joint venture means he’ll have a better chance at competing with British Airways and its partners: Air France-KLM Buying Stake in Virgin Atlantic in Major Airline Shake-up

>>Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly doesn’t always make the decisions that Wall Street wants to see, so don’t expect him to deviate from his cautious stance: Southwest CEO Doesn’t Expect Business to Be This Good Forever

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Richard Branson Sold Virgin Atlantic as Competitors Like Norwegian Usurped Its Role

Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson sold his stake in Virgin Atlantic. Pictured, Branson tries out the Economy seats on Virgin Altantic’s first 787 Dreamliner during his first walk-through of the aircraft in Atlanta October 24, 2014. Virgin Atlantic

Skift Take: Virgin Atlantic may have taken a step back as transatlantic competitors surged but the airline has one asset that everyone wants: those slots at Heathrow. Meanwhile, what does it say about Delta’s joint venture with Virgin Atlantic if the latter still finds itself in such a weak position?

— Dennis Schaal

How to make sense of the elaborate deal struck by four global airlines on Thursday?

To recap: Air France-KLM is paying 220 million pounds ($290 million) for a 31 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. The Franco-Dutch carrier will thus join Delta Air Lines Inc., owner of slightly less than half of Virgin Atlantic, as an anchor shareholder.

Meanwhile, Delta and China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd. will each purchase 10 percent of Air France-KLM via a capital increase.

If this all sounds unnecessarily byzantine, it isn’t really. The goal is that all the companies work more closely together, helping them fly more passengers to more destinations at a lower cost (to themselves). Plus, Air France’s balance sheet gets a makeover.

Ideally, you wouldn’t need such convoluted cross-shareholdings. But the airlines’ hands are tied by rules restricting foreign ownership. So cross-border takeovers are rare whereas alliances are common.

Presumably Virgin Atlantic’s ever-effervescent founder Richard Branson is happy to sell now, and hand over control, because competition is heating up over the Atlantic. Consider Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, with its fleet of shiny new planes and super-low fares between Europe and the U.S., which is taking Virgin’s old spot as Transatlantic travel’s sexy upstart.

And while Virgin has been struggling, as shown by the modest transaction price, it has one very attractive asset: landing slots at London’s crowded Heathrow airport, where passengers tend to pay higher fares. In that context, a defensive three-way partnership between Delta, Air France and Virgin across the Atlantic makes some sense.

Yes, Air France-KLM isn’t exactly flush with cash, in part because of its high labor costs. Its 3 billion euros of net debt doesn’t include the debt-like payments Air France has to make to rent planes (known as operating lease obligations). The company’s lease-adjusted net debt is almost 11 billion euros (2.7 times a measure of lease-adjusted earnings). In contrast, the company has just 2 billion euros of shareholder equity and a 3.7 billion euro market value.

But this makes raising capital a sensible thing to do at an opportune moment: the stock has more than doubled in a year as Asian customers have started flying to Europe again. Operating profit trebled in the first six months of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

Of course, Air France could have tapped its shareholders for money. Yet Delta and China Eastern bring other benefits. Better cooperation between the partners should deliver 60 million euros of extra savings. That would help Air France become more competitive and offset some of the dilution from issuing new shares at a 17 percent discount. Plus it’s hard to find fault in building stronger ties to a Chinese carrier.

For Delta, the 375 million euros for the Air France stake (which comes with a board seat) is comfortably within its means. The U.S. carrier has generated about $13 billion of free cash flow in the past four years.

Unlike Europe, the U.S. airline market is highly consolidated, meaning airlines there get a pretty easy ride when setting fares. Air France-KLM doesn’t have that luxury in Europe, where the price battle is brutal. Getting Delta on board isn’t the worst flight plan.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Chris Bryant from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Theme Park Battles Rage and 12 Other Tourism Trends This Week

Six Flags

Six Flags reported second quarter earnings his week. Rides at Six Flags over Georgia. Six Flags

Skift Take: This week in tourism we thought a lot about crowds. Venice tries to combat overtourism while theme parks fight for that level of visitation.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines tourism.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>You’ve waited this long already. Don’t wait another minute to get your ticket to this year’s Skift Global Forum. Tomorrow, we’ll officially be two months away: The Skift Global Forum Two-Month-Out Update

>>Leaving for your summer vacation? Take these podcast episodes with you to decode the travel trends you see on the road: Travel Podcasts to Get You Through Your Summer Vacation

>>Over 100 travel agencies have ceased operations in Singapore in the first six months of the year. But a closer look shows the trade is not dying; it is renewing: Singapore’s Old-School Travel Agencies Struggle While Innovators Thrive

>>Epcot, the theme park that once represented Walt Disney’s vision of an experimental future, is about to get a transformation that will bring it more in line with the parent company’s current strategy: Disney’s Once-Futuristic Epcot Is Getting a Modern Overhaul

>>Demographics always defy preconceived notions, but the mindsets of consumer segments are where the focus should be: Where Millennials and Baby Boomers Agree on Luxury Travel

>>The wholesale travel sector is under pressure from shifts in how hotel companies distribute their rooms. Tourico’s new tech for agencies and airlines may help boost sales and margins in the face of these trends: Tourico Holidays Tunes Up Its Technology After Hotelbeds Merger

>>Cabin seeks to bring style and a “moving hotel” approach to the overnight bus journey. They’ve nailed the design and approach, but will Californians choose it over flying? Lux Bus Startup Hopes Design and Flat Beds Will Make Overnight Trips Appealing

>>Disney still wins this round with the sheer volume of announcements it made earlier this month, but Universal definitely steals some theme park thunder with news of a new thrill ride at the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Universal Has More in Store for Harry Potter as Theme Park Battles Rage

>>Israel doesn’t really have a problem bringing in visitors. But bringing visitors who are not driven by religious beliefs is a challenge. Diversifying the country through food could help convince some travelers that a trip here is worth it: Israel Looks to Food Tourism to Attract a Different Kind of Visitor

>>While spending on business travel is forecasted to grow significantly in the next five years in both developed and emerging markets, there has also never been so much uncertainty collectively around global political, social, and economic disruptions: Business Travel Is Expected To Grow Amid High Uncertainty — Meetings Innovation Report

>>Analysts sounded concerned that a stretch of bad weather could put Six Flags Entertainment’s financial targets for 2017 at risk. The company better hope for clear skies moving forward — or find ways to reach the goals despite rainy days: New Six Flags CEO Is Blaming a Disappointing Quarter on the Rain

>>Travelers never like to be told what they cannot do, but perhaps Venice can strike the right tone: Venice Tackles Overtourism by Telling Visitors to Follow the Golden Rule

>>Under CEO Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook has quietly managed to turn itself around. The situation this year has undoubtedly been aided by an improving geopolitical climate but a more focussed, higher-quality product offering has also helped: Thomas Cook To Let Guests Choose Their Own Rooms as Operator Accelerates Hotel Improvements

Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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