Skift Global Forum NYC Super Early Bird Tickets Are on Sale

Skift Take: Tickets for our 2018 flagship forum are now on sale at our Super Early Bird rate. Register early to receive our lowest price while you can!

— Rafat Ali

Just four weeks ago, Skift brought together more than 1,100 of travel’s leading innovators for two and a half days of non-stop networking and learning at Skift Global Forum 2017.

And today we’re thrilled to let you know that preparation for our 2018 flagship event is already in full swing, and you can reserve your spot now at our absolute lowest rate. That’s right, $1300 OFF Super Early Bird tickets are officially on sale for Skift Global Forum 2018, happening on September 25-26, 2018 in New York City. Act fast! We only have 30 spots available at this price point!

Save on Skift Global Forum With Super Early Bird Tickets

Skift Global Forum 2018 will bring together the biggest CEOs in travel and beyond. They’ll come on stage at our yet-to-be-disclosed venue to discuss their visions for the future of travel.

You might be thinking to yourself: Next September seems really far away. Why would I register so early? We’ll tell you why!

  • Our Super Early Bird rate is the absolute lowest price we offer. So come next September, you’ll be wishing that you reserved your spot when tickets were $1300 OFF!
  • Our Super Early Bird ticket lets you gain full access to all that the conference holds including: the pre-evening opening event at a swanky NYC venue, breakfast and lunch both days (food at our 2017 event was divine), four exclusive networking breaks with more than 1,000 attendees from 550 companies, all speaker sessions, select workshops, and much more! Here is our 2017 event schedule to give you an idea of what our conference is like.
  • You’ll get ahead of the networking opportunities and logistical info. The sooner you reserve your spot, the sooner you’ll hear up from us! You’ll get first access to our event mobile app when it goes live and first access to all of the updates leading up to the conference.
  • You already know our CEO speaker list will be second to none. Check out our 2017 speaker lineup to get a sense of the caliber of talent that appears on stage at our events.
  • And finally, let’s face it. You’re going to buy a ticket anyway, might as well save now and rub it in your colleagues’ faces later.

Don’t Wait to Register for Skift Global Forum 2018

We will be announcing the first set of speakers in the coming weeks. In the meantime secure your spot at our lowest rate while you can! Only 30 Super Early Bird tickets remain.

If you’re interested in sponsoring what will surely be the most creative business conference of 2018, email us at forum@skift.com.

And don’t forget to check out the rest of our upcoming Forums, happening around the globe in 2018.

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Winners and Losers Emerge From Consolidation Among U.S. Ski Resorts

Zach Dischner  / Flickr

Skiers in Colorado. Dueling groups of ski resorts are fighting for market share across the U.S. Zach Dischner / Flickr

Skift Take: Increased competition is driving down the cost of multi-resort ski passes for skiers. As the industry struggles, good deals will likely abound this winter.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Adriaan Demmers spends most winter weekends as an instructor at Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort, a bunny hill near his home in Guelph, Ontario. But the real estate agent and his wife also logged 57 days last winter on slopes from Maine to Utah, using a MAX Pass, which for $679 buys up to five days each at 44 mountains across North America. The industry average for a day pass is $113, meaning Demmers would have broken even after six days on the slopes.

“It’s not just about saving money,” says Demmers, 58. “It’s an opportunity to go to all these resorts.”

MAX, an acronym for Multi Alpine Experience, led Demmers to peaks he might not have otherwise considered. One surprise was Mt. Bachelor, an unpretentious Central Oregon resort with 3,365 vertical feet of slopes and miles of gladed trails. It was the first leg of a month-long journey that wound through Crystal Mountain, Wash.; Big Sky, Mont.; Solitude, Utah; and Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado.

This sampler-like twist on the season pass is perhaps the biggest ski industry game-changer to come along in recent years. Along with MAX Pass, the $489 Mountain Collective provides two days at each of 16 destinations from the Canadian Rockies to Australia, and Epic Pass, an RFID-enabled lift ticket, costs $899 and offers seamless, unlimited access to 16 mountains owned by Vail Resorts Inc.

The two are the largest players in a rising trend that offers skiers and snowboarders a break on expensive lift tickets, access to prime snow in drought years, and incentives to visit different peaks. They also signal a shift toward industry consolidation led by Vail Resorts and affiliates of its Colorado-based rival, Aspen Skiing Co.

An Epic Buying Spree

In the past year, Vail Resorts bought Stowe in Vermont and, in a record $1.3 billion deal, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings in British Columbia, the largest resort in North America. According to Matthew Brooks, a Macquarie Capital analyst who covers Vail and other travel industry firms, it fetched more than double the $565 million Vail has paid for all of its other mountain acquisitions combined since 2002.

Not to be outdone, in April, Aspen Skiing Co.—which owns Snowmass and Buttermilk, in addition to Aspen and Aspen Highlands—teamed up with investment group KSL Capital Partners LLC to buy the six U.S. and Canadian resorts owned by Intrawest Resort Holdings Inc. for $1.5 billion. Those properties include Steamboat in Colorado, Canada’s Mont Tremblant, and Stratton in Vermont. Then it acquired Mammoth Resorts’ four mountains in California and Deer Valley in Utah. If the as-yet-unnamed company launches an answer to the EpicPass next season, it will rival Vail’s product both in number of mountains and geographical variety.

These acquisitions are a new phenomenon, in part because they’re the fastest way to gain market share when barriers to entry such as environmental regulations and big infrastructure costs make it hard to add destinations. “They’re not building any new mountains,” says Brooks, the analyst. In fact, no major ski resort has been constructed in North America since Deer Valley and Colorado’s Beaver Creek opened in the early 1980s.

Moreover, by expanding coast-to-coast, these big companies develop feeder streams of new consumers, who may otherwise overlook big-price tag, big-name resorts for more affordable, family-run mountains.

Even independent mountains are banding together into such consortiums as Mountain Collective and MAX Pass. It’s the only way to keep up. In the Northeast, the year-old Peak Pass now offers all-access to seven resorts in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, from Hunter Mountain to Mount Snow. Similarly, the western-U.S.-centric Powder Alliance, which started in 2013 with 12 resorts and has since grown to 16, gives season pass holders of any member resort up to 45 days of free skiing across the portfolio.

Hedging Against Mother Nature

Another incentive to consolidate is that having more mountains offers companies an insurance policy against bad snowfall.

“Good snow trumps a good economy,” says Michael Berry, president of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. Over the past two decades, he says, the total number of active annual U.S. skiers and snowboarders peaked during the worst of the Great Recession, from 2009 to 2011. Among the industry’s hardest moments were the four years of drought in California, which left many mountainsides bare in the most populous state.

Vail has seen this first-hand: Its visitor count tumbled last year, thanks to late snow in Colorado. For a company that made roughly half its $1.6 billion revenue on lift tickets in fiscal 2017, that puts high stakes on good snowfall. “From a business perspective, [consolidation] locks in that loyalty and weatherproofs us for off-weather years,” says Pete Sonntag, chief operating officer at Whistler.

Those who are willing to pay up front stand to win, too. With passes that include tony resorts in the Rockies alongside mountains that are easily accessible from such cities as New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco, they can now buy a season pass for a favorite weekend spot and effectively nab a steep discount for once-a-year trips farther afield, where conditions may be more of a sure thing.

Dollars and Cents

Most season passes pay for themselves after four to six visits when compared with one-day-ticket window costs, which are climbing faster than inflation. According to a presentation from the National Ski Areas Association, single-day weekend tickets averaged $113 last winter, up from about $90 in the 2013-2014 season.

They aren’t money-savers for everyone. Even to experienced ski travelers such as Kary York, who has organized trips for seven years for the Seattle-area Sno Joke Club, the number of options can be confusing. For example, Mountain Collective’s pass is limited to two free days at each of 16 mountains—additional lift tickets sell for half the window price. It’s a great deal for a skier who can hop from resort to resort on weekends; for someone that spends a week-long vacation in one place, it may not pencil out.

Families have further considerations in mind. While EpicPass offers unlimited lift tickets across all its mountains, it costs $469 for kids aged 5-12 and has blackouts on certain weekends and holidays; Mountain Collective sells a limited number of $1 passes for children under 12; even its standard $99 price tag is cheaper than a kids’ day pass at Vail’s namesake resort.

York, whose day job is being an insurance industry headhunter, says she spends “a ton of time” navigating the options ahead of each ski season. As she put it, “You gotta read the fine print.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by John Gittelsohn from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Texas Faces Battle Over Planned Alamo Shrine Revamp

Eric Gay  / Associated Press

Guests visit the grounds of the Alamo shrine in San Antonio. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is overseeing a 7-year, $450 million revamp of the Alamo, where 189 independence fighters were killed in 1836.
Eric Gay / Associated Press

Skift Take: Today’s Alamo shrine is mainly one structure that offers relatively little to see among the remnants. A revamped presentation could enrich the experience and better cater to visitors.

— Sean O’Neill

Remember the Alamo? A new Texas battle is brewing over how best to do so.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush is overseeing a 7-year revamp of the shrine where 189 Texas independence fighters were killed by Mexican Gen. Santa Anna’s troops in 1836. The site’s size would quadruple after excavation and restoration of historical structures, the closing of nearby streets and the building of a more than 100,000-square foot museum to house artifacts and guide visitors through the Alamo’s history.

The project has raised the ire of some conservatives, who worry that the Battle of the Alamo will be sanitized by “political correctness” at a time when Confederate monuments are being removed across the country. Even though the Alamo battle was well before the Civil War, some of the participants were slaveholders.

A flashpoint has been the fate of the Cenotaph, a 60-foot (18.29-meter) granite monument near the Alamo completed in 1940 and engraved with the names of those killed during the battle. The city of San Antonio wants to move it to a site somewhat farther away. But critics fear the Cenotaph will suffer the fate of some Confederate monuments and be banished.

Hundreds of protesters showed up at the Alamo last weekend, some wearing colonial costumes and holding signs reading “Leave the Alamo Alone.”

The ruling Republican Party of Texas was so concerned that its executive committee voted 57-1 in September to urge Bush to keep the focus of the overhaul on the battle itself and calling for more transparency in how the effort is funded.

“This isn’t just some memory that’s popular in movies, these were living, breathing people,” said Lee Spencer White, a descendant of Gordon C. Jennings, who at 56 was the oldest defender killed at the Alamo. “The Alamo’s personal.”

The criticism from fellow Republicans has put the latest political star of the Bush family on the defensive. The 41-year-old son of former Florida governor and presidential candidate Jeb and Mexican-born mother Columba, Bush has used funds for his re-election bid next year on a website and radio ads defending the restoration.

“My focus isn’t on the politics, it’s on preserving the Alamo,” Bush said via email. “I’m focused on telling the story of the heroic battle for freedom — proudly, purposefully and better than ever before.”

Bush’s critics say his Hispanic heritage isn’t an issue, noting that many Tejanos — Texans of Hispanic descent — played prominent roles during the Battle of the Alamo. They included Gregorio Esparza, who was given the chance to flee beforehand but stayed and was killed in battle. Still, during the Cenotaph protest, one demonstrator bellowed: “Vote George P. Santa Anna Bush out of office” to applause.

During the war of independence from Mexico, Texas forces occupied the Alamo, which had been founded by Spaniards as a Franciscan mission in 1718 but was relocated to its current spot, now in in the heart of San Antonio, America’s seventh-largest city, in 1724. Though vastly outnumbered by Mexican soldiers, the defenders held out during a 13-day siege before being overrun on March 6, 1836. Their bravery became a rallying cry and Texas won independence the following month, then became part of the United States nine years later.

Supporters of the Alamo revamp emphasize that there is good reason to upgrade the site visited by 2.5-plus million people a year. The existing shrine is small and offers relatively little to see. Nearby is what some have called a “carnival” atmosphere, with Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and other buildings that are being bought up in the renovation.

Bush’s office is working with a Philadelphia-based historic preservation and architecture firm with the goal of presenting the Alamo’s full history. The site’s public space would expand from around two acres to 9.5 acres, though public outcry already halted a proposal to build glass walls around the entire area. Santa Anna ordered the original walls around the Alamo torn down after the battle, but remnants remain underground and plans are to excavate and possibly place them under glass for visitors to view.

Pop icon Phil Collins, who spent decades collecting Alamo artifacts, has begun donating most of them to Texas, including a leather pouch belonging to slain defender Davey Crockett, as well as the knife of Jim Bowie, namesake of today’s fixed blade Bowie knife. The renovation project calls for the artifacts to be displayed in the new museum.

Jerry Patterson, a Republican who was Bush’s predecessor as land commissioner, said the issue of slave owners among the Alamo independence fighters is sure to be raised. Alamo commander William Travis owned slaves and Bowie, his co-commander, traded them.

“History’s full of warts,” Patterson said. “There are no men, icons of the past, that will stand up to modern scrutiny.”

San Antonio has pledged $38 million for the revamp and the Texas Legislature has approved $106.5 million since 2015. The project’s total cost could reach $450 million, though much of that may be raised privately. State contracts suggest Bush’s office paid nearly $4.9 million on an Alamo renovation master plan, but Bush wouldn’t say exactly how much has been spent so far.

Exactly what the new Alamo will look like also isn’t clear. Artists’ renderings were released previously, but Bush’s office says those weren’t official. Construction hasn’t started but is scheduled to finish by 2024, when the Alamo turns 300 at its current location.

The controversy is lost on most Alamo tourists, including Sue and Dave Gay who visited recently from Rochester, New York.

“You can’t change what it is,” said Sue Gay, a 50-year-old nurse, said of the current Alamo site. “Just because it’s small doesn’t make it any less significant.”

Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was written by Will Weissert from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Trump’s Third Travel Ban Halted and 16 Other Tourism Trends This Week

Bloomberg

President Donald Trump ordered restrictions on travel to the U.S. from eight countries, replacing his ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority nations. Bloomberg

Skift Take: For this week in tourism, besides the halting of Trump’s third travel ban, we concentrated on Puerto Rico’s recovery plan for leisure and business travel. We also have an eye on uncertainty in Catalonia.

— 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.

>>Universal is working to get vacationers to spend more time at their hotels and parks, and they likely had an advantage with dog owners. It’s smart for Disney to make some of its hotels dog-friendly — and we wonder what this trial will lead to: Disney-Universal Theme Park Wars Are Going to the Dogs

>>The Caribbean was suffering from a man-made marketing-funding crisis even before Mother Nature brought destructive hurricanes to its doorsteps this year. Tourism officials are pleading with the travel industry to get involved and help build its fund for this year and the future: Caribbean Destinations Hope for Marketing Campaign if They Can Find the Money

>>As the developed markets reach their saturation point in outbound travel, emerging markets are moving in to become the dominant contributors to international tourism expenditure: Emerging Markets Upended the Balance of Power in Tourism Spending

>>The world has always been a complicated place, but shifting geopolitical tensions and the echo chamber of social media have contributed to a culture of anxiety affecting travelers around the world: Looking at the World Through Anxious Eyes

>>Cruise passengers are still taking the trips they had planned for this time of year in the Caribbean, despite recent storms. As operators seek to reassure travelers that the region is open for business, it’s still unclear how demand for cruises next hurricane season will hold up: Cruise Execs Are Talking Up the Caribbean as Key Ports Recover

>>Even luxury destinations must diversify their destination’s offerings to bolster the economy in the off-season. Breckenridge’s slow and thoughtful approach can serve as a role model: Luxury Ski Spot Breckenridge Tries to Diversify Its Seasonal Economy

>>While part of the goal of Belmond’s new branding campaign is to establish itself as an entity apart from its former Orient Express moniker, we wonder if the images it presents may be just a little too reminiscent of its former self: Belmond Looks to Solidify Its Brand Image Against Competitor With Its Old Name

>>International spending on luxury goods often tracks movements in worldwide travel. A recent report sheds light on how travel and high-end shopping are intertwined: Why Luxury Travel Brands Should Pay Attention to High-End Retail Trends

>>Another travel ban has been halted, this time just hours before taking effect. At no point have the executive orders been able to prove that letting people from Muslim-majority countries into the U.S. would have a detrimental effect on security: Trump’s Third Travel Ban Halted by Hawaii Judge

>>In a complicated world, businesses are concerned with the safety of their workers on the road. Technology can help ease business traveler anxiety, but there is no flawless solution when something goes wrong: What’s Worrying the Business Traveler

>>The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau is actively selling for 2018 meetings and conventions despite the fallout from Hurricane Maria, but with the rebuilding efforts, the island should reposition itself more as a hub of industry innovation rather than just a U.S. tropical paradise: Puerto Rico Convention Bureau CEO Is Focusing on 2018 After Hurricane Maria

>>A prolonged period of uncertainty over Catalonia’s future does nobody any favors. The region and the city of Barcelona have endured a difficult 2017 and it will be interesting to see if this has any impact on tourism in 2018: Catalonia’s Bid for Independence Is Complicating Tourism in Spain

>>The last thing Carnival Corp. wants is for its much-hyped new technology to be a flop with guests. So a phased rollout it is — though we wonder why that wasn’t the plan from the beginning: Carnival Corp. Is Delaying the Full Launch of Its New Wearable Tech

>>With so much weighing on the minds of meeting and event planners today, we wanted to take a closer look at what lies ahead: Forging Ahead in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas — Meetings Innovation Report

>>Travel managers may finally take the initiative to improve quality of life for their travelers in a meaningful way. Business travelers themselves remain worried about the negative effects of traveling for work: Business Travelers Remain Concerned About Work-Life Balance

>>Although China is the largest market in outbound travel, a deeper look at the figures shows that China is still far from its potential. Just 8.7 percent of Chinese hold a passport today: China Outbound Travel Spending Disparity Shows Enormous Growth Potential

>>Traveling for work can be fun, but it represents a huge hassle. Travel managers are finally working to adapt to the needs of the travelers they serve: Business Traveler Anxiety Is Here to Stay — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

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Spending Half as Much on Hotels and 4 Other Travel Hacks

Visit Flanders

Travelers can often pay 50 percent less than they do for a hotel stay. Pictured is a front desk concierge at Hotel Van Cleef in Belgium. Visit Flanders

Skift Take: Many consumers continue to pay too more than what they should for travel if they had shopped around. Travelers are confused about the best way to get a deal, and these are some smart hacks if we say so ourselves.

— Dan Peltier

We love to travel. And we always want to make sure we’re doing it right. So we’re talking to globe-trotters in all of our luxury fields—food, wine, fashion, cars, real estate—to learn about their high-end hacks, tips, and off-the-wall experiences. These are the Distinguished Travel Hackers.

Jasper Pääkkönen, 37, began acting as a child at Helsinki City Theater in Finland’s capital before becoming a breakout heartthrob in a Finnish soap opera at age 20. He quickly moved into English-language film and TV, including his best-known role as cruel Halfdan the Black in History Channel’s bare-knuckle historical drama, “Vikings.”

A passionate outdoorsman, Jasper is an avid fly fisherman who has been tapped as a global ambassador for Patagonia. He travels around 100,000 miles each year, often between his two home bases across the world. Pääkkönen lives in Helsinki, where he is a co-owner of the new high-design public sauna complex Löyly; he also maintains a home in Los Angeles.

How to hack the airline loyalty game,  Part One:

I always check Rocketmiles and Pointshound when I book my hotels. Sometimes you can get the same hotel room you were about to book anyway, but using these sites, you get a big bunch of miles as an added bonus in your airline miles account. You could end up with 10,000. These sites act as hotel affiliates but instead of taking the full commission, they give you back a portion of it in miles; they buy the miles from the airlines in chunks to do that.

There was a time when I had to go somewhere—Los Angeles probably—at the last minute, and all the hotels were super-expensive. I found a room at the same price on one of these sites, but for a week’s stay in the hotel I ended up getting 20,000-plus miles in my account. That’s basically two flights within Europe or one flight across the Atlantic, in economy.

How to hack the airline loyalty game,  Part Two:

I’m quite loyal to a certain [airline] alliance because of where I live. Helsinki is my base, and Finnair is part of One World, so it’s the natural choice to fly. But here’s one of the tricks that people don’t understand about taking full advantage of different airline programs: Remember that, within an alliance, you can log the points to whichever airline’s loyalty program you want and use those miles to buy flights within that alliance. So I log my miles to both American [Airlines] and British Airways, but I use them to buy flights on Finnair. Last minute flights within Europe can be extremely expensive, but I can find the same flights, for example, on American Airlines [using miles] and fly them for almost nothing. Using miles to buy last-minute flights has saved me so much money.

How to fly as much as you like, guilt-free:

Being an environmentalist to the core, I am extremely well aware of the impact of flying. For me, to be able to justify it in any sense, I buy carbon offsets from Carbon Footprint. In my personal opinion, the planting of trees, projects like that, are not as strong as things like building renewable energy plants in developing countries or providing low-emission stoves for poor families there, which works at the grass-roots level.

The reason you should spend half as much as you think on your next hotel:

Take 50 percent of what you’re preparing to spend, or have gotten used to spending, on accommodation and [instead] use it on indulging yourself in the best the local culture has to offer: a daily massage, maybe. I enjoy staying in a very luxurious, five-star resort, but more often than not, I would opt to stay more casually and spend my money on something different. In the Philippines, for example, I have a destination in mind I’ll visit during this winter, a small island resort, San Nicholas. In the Philippines, everything is extremely cheap, so if you want to do barefoot luxury—kinda no-frills, very casual—you can add a little to it by indulging in massages, or having a chef cook your food.

Already been to the Maldives? Try these islands next:

Lakshadweep (pictured below), aka the Laccadive island group in the Indian Ocean, is most likely what the Maldives were decades ago before they were developed. There are 36 of them, but only 10 are inhabited, and only five can be accessed by tourists. But everybody knows it’s never been a possibility to visit because the Indian government hasn’t really allowed any travel permits. But Solid Adventures specializes in arranging trips to the most remote destinations in the world, and it’s managed to negotiate special permission from the local government to access some of these amazing islands. Fly fishermen usually have a radar [instinct] of all the places around the world known to offer some of the best fisheries.

This article was written by Mark Ellwood from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Ryanair Settles Legal Dispute With Google and 5 Other Aviation Trends This Week

Ryanair

Ryanair settled its legal dispute over misleading ads. Whatever resolution was agreed upon will remain a secret between Ryanair, Google, and eDreams. Ryanair

Skift Take: This week in aviation, Ryanair moved past its legal dispute with Google over misleading ads, and JetBlue took a new step toward direct booking.

— 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.

>>Yes, a lot of people have ditched their airline-branded credit cards. But even people who have snazzy new cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, like to redeem points for free travel on United and other airlines. For that reason, United MileagePlus miles are still valuable to Chase: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Buzz Could Be a Problem for United Airlines

>>What we learned from this story: Jessica Alba is one reason airlines improved pajama quality, and passengers steal pillows and blankets from airplanes. Plus, not everyone is sure why airlines give premium passengers amenity kits on every long-haul flight: Business of Pajamas, Pillows and Bragging Rights on Airplanes

>>Unbundling has been one of the biggest buzzwords in the airline industry in recent years, and for good reason. Full-service carriers like Delta think it is a great way to hit a broader range of consumers, but it doesn’t come without its risks: Video: Delta CEO Sees Basic Economy as Way to Show Passengers They Aren’t Getting Ripped Off

>>On its own, this is no big deal. Not many people book JetBlue tickets on Vegas.com or whatscheaper.com. But JetBlue called this phase one, so we’ll be watching closely to see the airline’s next step: JetBlue Airways Drops a Dozen Online Travel Agencies in Cost-Cutting Move

>>Sadly, whatever resolution was agreed upon will remain a secret between Ryanair, Google, and eDreams. We’ll have to keep an eye on the Google search results to see if anything changes: Ryanair Settles Legal Dispute Over Misleading Ads With Google and eDreams

>>Did United Airlines promote its new Polaris cabin faster than was prudent? The answer is probably yes. But remember, in 2016, United was losing high-value customers to competitors. It likely wanted to make a splash by highlighting its future plans: United Airlines Struggles to Keep Its Polaris Promises

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Grand Ole Opry House Set for Expansion as Nashville Tourism Booms

Mark Humphrey  / Associated Press

The Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville is getting a $12 million expansion and renovation. In this photo from 2013, visitors walk around the site. Mark Humphrey / Associated Press

Skift Take: Tourism has boomed in Nashville in recent years. A revamped Grand Ole Opry House will help the venue cope with the huge increase in demand.

— Andrew Sheivachman

The iconic Grand Ole Opry House in Tennessee’s capital city will undergo a $12 million expansion to add parking, larger retail space and an enhanced area for backstage tours.

The updates are aimed at improving the fan experience outside of shows as the performance hall is not part of the plan, The Tennessean reported Monday. A similar $14 million project to expand and renovate the Ryman Auditorium gave Ryman Hospitality confidence for renovations at the Opry House, Ryman Hospitality CEO Colin Reed said.

The retail and parking spaces will be developed to accommodate a steady flow of fans and should be done by October 2018. The addition of 1,300 parking spots on a paved lot will replace unused land.

Details on a VIP lounge for backstage tours are still being finalized. The box office will be relocated so that Ryman-owned food trucks can also be brought in.

Centric Architecture is designing the project that will be built by RC Mathews, and Ryman Hospitality hopes it is completed by January 2019.

Over the last several years, Ryman Hospitality has spent more than $130 million toward Nashville’s country music tourism industry.

Attendance reached 650,000 in 2016 at the Opry House, 150,000 more than in 2012. Tours attendance rose by 100,000 during the same period of time.

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

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Yves Saint Laurent Museum Opens in Marrakech Near Popular Tourist Site

Mosa'ab Elshamy  / Associated Press

Visitors queue to visit the Yves Saint Laurent museum as it opens its doors to the public in Marrakech, Morocco, on Thursday. Mosa’ab Elshamy / Associated Press

Skift Take: Marrakech is already rich in artistic attractions, but this museum could become an icon like its namesake. It’s off to a good start by giving visitors more to do than just tour the galleries.

— Sarah Enelow

The Yves Saint Laurent museum opened its doors to the public Thursday in Marrakech, the sunny, bustling, gritty Moroccan city beloved by the late French designer.

The highly anticipated opening comes less than three weeks since the inauguration of a museum dedicated to the fashion pioneer in his home city of Paris.

The Marrakech museum, designed by the French architectural firm Studio KO, sprawls across 4,000 square meters (43,000 sq. feet) near the Majorelle Garden, which Yves Saint Laurent and his late partner Pierre Berge bought in 1980.

It features a permanent exhibit on the work of the prolific French couturier who died in 2008, and includes an exhibit hall, an auditorium, a library, a bookshop and a restaurant.

The museum was inaugurated Oct. 14 by the wife of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Lalla Salma, alongside actresses Catherine Deneuve and Marisa Berenson.

“This project finds its genesis in the temporary exhibition organized in the Majorelle Garden, which was called ‘Yves Saint Laurent and Morocco,’” explained Museum Director Bjorn Dahlstrom. “(That) exhibition was so enthusiastically welcomed that Bergé decided to create here, in Marrakech, a museum dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent.”

At the entrance to the museum, visitors bought tickets Thursday next to a red facade of Tetuan brick and granite, which Dahlstrom said “fits perfectly in the urban environment of Marrakech.”

Berge, who died earlier this year and was also Saint Laurent’s business partner, “often came to the construction site to see its progress,” said Sanaa El Younsi, a member of the museum team. “What a pity he’s not here to attend the opening.”

The Majorelle Garden, next to the museum, has a special significance for Saint Laurent, who would often design his collections in the shade of the city’s dappled terracotta buildings with the scent of flowers in the air. Today, the Majorelle Garden is one of the most visited tourist sites in the city.

Saint Laurent would come here “as soon as he finished a collection, to rest and prepare a new collection,” said Majorelle Garden Foundation head Quito Fierro.

“The garden was closed to the public between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to allow Yves Saint Laurent to walk without meeting people,” he remembered. “Almost all the collections were drawn on a white sheet in Marrakech.”

This article was written by Reda Zaireg from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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5 Questions on the Latest Laptop Ban Proposal

rpavich  / Flickr

Flyers wait in a TSA security line. The U.S. government is once again pushing a laptop ban, this time on laptops in checked baggage. rpavich / Flickr

Skift Take: Experts said it was dangerous for flyers to check their laptops during the first international laptop ban. The U.S. government has now reversed its stance, but it seems implausible that international aviation authorities will take action.

— Andrew Sheivachman

First the U.S. government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags.

The FAA says in a filing with the International Civil Aviation Organization that the lithium-ion batteries in laptops can overheat and create fires.

Some questions and answers about the shifting U.S. policy.

WHY IS THE FAA WORRIED ABOUT THIS DANGER NOW?

The FAA has long been concerned about the potential hazardous of lithium batteries. The agency’s tests of the risks of shipping large quantities of batteries as cargo on airliners showed that when a single battery overheats, it can cause other nearby batteries to overheat as well. That can result in intense fires and the release of explosive gases.

Based on those test results, the FAA was able to convince ICAO two years ago to ban cargo shipments of lithium batteries on passenger planes and to require that batteries shipped on cargo planes be charged no more than 30 percent. The risk of overheating is lower if the battery isn’t fully charged.

More recently, the FAA conducted 10 tests of fully charged laptops packed in suitcases. In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo —which is permitted in checked baggage — was strapped to the laptop. A heater was placed against the laptop’s battery to force it into “thermal runaway,” a condition in which the battery’s temperature continually rises. There was a fire almost immediately and an explosion within 40 seconds with enough force to potentially disable the fire suppression system.

Other tests of laptop batteries packed in suitcases with goods like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions.

ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT CONTRADICTING ITSELF BY FIRST SAY LAPTOPS SHOULD BE CHECKED, THEN SAYING THEY SHOULDN’T?

The different messages are the result of two agencies with different missions: security versus safety.

Last March, the Department of Homeland Security imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the U.S. from 10 Middle Eastern airports to prevent them from being used as a tool in an attack. Many passengers put their laptops in their checked bags instead. The ban was fully lifted in July after airports in the region took steps to improve security.

This ban is being sought by the FAA, which is focused on the risk of an accidental explosion more than the prospect of a terrorist attack.

WHEN WILL THIS GO INTO EFFECT?

There are no guarantees that there will be ban on packing laptops in checked bags.

The FAA is presenting its case at a meeting this week and next of ICAO’s dangerous goods panel. European aviation safety regulators, aircraft manufacturers and pilots’ unions have endorsed the proposal.

Even if the panel were to agree with the proposal, it would still need to be adopted at higher levels of ICAO. And it would only apply to international flights.

WILL THE U.S. IMPOSE A BAN ON CHECKING LAPTOPS ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS?

This is unclear. Individual countries can decide whether to implement domestic bans. The United States has not indicated if it will do so.

The effect of such a ban may not be great, since many passengers don’t check bags to avoid surcharges, and those that do often prefer to carry on electronics.

WILL THE U.S. CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BAN?

This is also unclear. The FAA, which favors the ban, is handling negotiations for the U.S. at the ICAO meeting. But, for future meetings, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is having another agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, take the lead.

It’s not clear if that agency, known as PHMSA, will share the FAA’s position.

PHMSA previously led dangerous goods negotiations, but the Obama administration put the FAA in charge after congressional Democrats complained that PHMSA officials were too cozy with the industries they regulated.

The Transportation Department said in a statement that PHMSA “has a unique and highly effective” approach to regulating the transportation of hazardous materials, and that it will consider what impact any change in aviation rules might have on transportation. The statement also said PHMSA will collaborate with the FAA.

This article was written by Joan Lowy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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Priceline Invests $450 Million in Chinese E-Commerce and 5 Other Digital Trends This Week

Vincent Yu  / Associated Press

Chinese outbound visitors during a Chinese New Year celebration in Macau. Priceline Group wants more of its Agoda properties worldwide booked by Chinese travelers. Vincent Yu / Associated Press

Skift Take: This week’s digital news revolved around funding. Priceline invested $450 million in Chinese e-commerce, vacation rental property management company Vacasa raised $103 million, and travel startup incubators are booming.

— 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.

>>Vacasa spent years building a business before venture capital came along for the ride at this level. Its fate now depends on how well it executes the sometimes-cumbersome task of adding new properties at scale, and whether it can avoid hubris: Vacasa Raises $103 Million as Venture Capital Commits to the Property Management Sector

>>Trivago, its parent Expedia, and Booking.com all want to provide business services to hotels. It’s easy to see the potential value to resource-strapped hotel managers. Still, many hoteliers remain suspicious of these giants: Trivago Launches a Subsidiary to Sell Hoteliers on Its Business Tools

>>Come work for the best boutique travel media research company on the planet! Skift Research Is Hiring a Full-Time European Analyst

>>We’ve heard for several years how travel brands will use new technology to make travel seamless. We wish it would happen next year. But it sounds like we’ll have to wait awhile. Perhaps someday we’ll get there: Video: Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel on How Artificial Intelligence Will Make Travel Seamless

>>The deal shows the pragmatism of Priceline Group’s new CEO toward China. Glenn Fogel chose to sync up with an additional local player rather than rely just on its existing partnership with Ctrip: Priceline Invests $450 Million in Chinese E-Commerce Giant Meituan-Dianping

>>Another day, another support system for travel startups. Given all these incubators and accelerators, travel startups must be enjoying a golden age of innovation and profitability. Right? Expedia Affiliate Network and Hotels.com Hop on Travel Startups Incubator Trend

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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