Trump Travel Ban Gets Tweet Support From the President After London Attack

Pool via Associated Press

In this aerial image made from video, police officers work at the Parsons Green Underground Station after an explosion in London Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. A reported explosion at a train station sent commuters stampeding in panic, injuring several people at the height of London’s morning rush hour, and police said they were investigating it as a terrorist attack.
Pool via Associated Press

Skift Take: This knee-jerk reaction — before all the facts are in, by the way, is hardly surprising.

— Dennis Schaal

President Donald Trump says the United States must be “proactive” and “nasty” against the Islamic State group.

On Twitter Friday Trump says: “We have made more progress in the last nine months against ISIS than the Obama Administration has made in 8 years.” He adds: “Must be proactive & nasty!”

Trump was tweeting after a homemade bomb exploded on a packed London subway train during rush hour on Friday. The incident left 18 people injured but no one seriously hurt. Police said the explosion was a terrorist attack, the fifth in Britain this year.

Earlier used the incident to defend his travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries. As a candidate, Trump often pledged to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” and vowed to enact a Muslim ban.

President Donald Trump is defending his travel ban. He says it should be “tougher and more specific.”

On Twitter Friday Trump says: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”

Trump made the comment after tweeting about a reported explosion and fire on a subway train in London that police say was a terrorist incident.

The ban affects travelers from six mostly Muslim nations and refugees anywhere in the world.

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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Lola Pivots to Business Travel and Rebrands

Lola

The Lola website. Lola has pivoted to business travel recently, with new functionality for groups on the way. Lola

Skift Take: Lola’s pivot to business travel makes a lot of sense from a financial perspective. One has to wonder, however, whether the small company will be able to attract customers in the crowded corporate travel marketplace.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Lola, the latest brainchild of Kayak co-founder Paul English, has quietly pivoted away from leisure travel to become a business travel booking tool.

English announced the rebranding on Twitter Thursday, after hinting at the change during a conference appearance in May.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

English explained the pivot more fully in a Medium post published in July, when the site apparently changed its homepage to indicate its business travel focus, citing the reality that the app was simply more sticky with business travelers.

“There were really two key learnings from our customers that struck me the most,” wrote English of his experience with Lola so far. “First, was that some travelers want self-service options to book their own trips rather than relying on our agents to take care of everything for them. They still want human travel agent help, but only when they need it.

“Second, was that the people who really love Lola are the ones who travel a lot — they are on the road every week, or every couple of weeks. They really need human support for all kinds of different things. For this reason, business travelers gravitated towards us in droves — and were among our most voracious users. That’s when the lightbulb went off.”

In June, Lola tweeted a request for travelers to send over a copy of their company’s travel policy in exchange for a $500 hotel credit on Lola.

When Skift reached out to Lola, a company representative said it isn’t currently doing interviews about the changes at the company, but would in the near future.

The rebranding includes the website message: “Lola is on a mission to make business travel buttery smooth.” However, Lola is currently an app-only tool with human agents live in the background.

For those who have been watching since Lola launched in 2016, the pivot shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Leisure travelers tend not to be loyal to any single booking site or travel agent, while business travelers are not only more frequent travelers but more likely to book again through a convenient service.

Always-on mobile support is an extremely attractive proposition for business travelers, especially the sort of proactive communication that users of Lola experience during a trip. This is an example from the Lola site.

Lola has attracted serious attention from venture capitalists; the company has received $44.7 million in funding so far in two rounds, and was valued at $90 million entering 2017.

When Lola was gearing up to launch, English talked up plans to have more than one hundred travel agents on staff; that quickly became 100 consultants in a call center somewhere around the world. A partnership with Virtuoso last year also showed the company’s willingness to go after higher-yielding leisure travelers. It appears those plans never came to fruition; the Lola site currently lists only 52 employees on staff.

The business travel booking tool space has become more crowded in recent months. Concur recently announced compatibility with Hipmunk for small businesses. Expense service providers like Certify are also pushing more fully into the business travel booking arena.

There’s also Upside from Priceline co-founder Jay Walker, which is well-funded and targeting the same small-to-midsize business travel market with packages of flights and hotels.

Cracking the corporate travel market is no simple thing due to the deeply entrenched stakeholders in the space.

“The corporate market is large and has established rules of engagement,” said Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, founder of Groupize, which pivoted from hospitality to the corporate travel market in recent years. “It is not an easy space to disrupt and the promised land for every start up.  You have to find the value proposition to be a real ‘must-have,’ as opposed to ‘nice to have.’ Expectations are high on what you need to do for them.”

A look at the latest iteration of the Lola app shows that the service will soon allow “team” bookings, which means the company could be pivoting towards serving small-to-medium size businesses with group bookings.

There’s also an area to input a user’s loyalty program information, a further consideration for frequent business travelers.

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UNWTO Appoints Secretary-General Who Wants to Win Over Holdout Countries

UNWTO  / Flickr

Zurab Pololikashvili was elected the new UNWTO Secretary-General. He’s pictured here speaking at a UNWTO event in May 2017. UNWTO / Flickr

Skift Take: The UNWTO has been touting impressive growth in global tourism for years but, has only recently started to get more serious about the reality of overtourism. Travel brands will be watching how Pololikashvili responds to the problem, and whether he can get through to destinations that are struggling.

— Dan Peltier

The new United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary-General hopes to expand the organization’s membership base as one of his top priorities.

The UNWTO appointed Zurab Pololikashvili, Georgia’s ambassador to Spain, Andorra, Algeria and Morocco, as its new Secretary-General for the 2018-2021 term.

UNWTO’s membership includes 156 countries, six associate members and 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

The U.S., one of the world’s most visited countries, is notably not a member because of disagreements about policy and membership costs. And 35 other countries, such as the UK, Ireland, the U.A.E. and Sweden are also non-members.

Pololikashvili’s also inheriting an organization that’s beginning to put more emphasis on tourism growth.

“I propose to initiate the following thematic platforms to expand UNWTO’s advocacy work and awareness-raising: a global leaders’ summit on travel and tourism for heads of state, in parallel with the UNWTO General Assembly; an annual ministerial meeting on safety, security and travel facilitation to enhance effective inter-sectoral coordination; an annual global ‘invest in tourism’ forum to promote investment opportunities and share best international practices on investment and incentive policies; and an annual ministerial-level forum on climate change and tourism to offer specific recommendations on implementing long-term sustainable development policies,” Pololikashvil said in a statement.

The UNWTO Secretary-General is the de facto leader of global tourism and regularly meets with heads of state and travel brands around the world to educate them about tourism trends and the impact of global travel, for example.

Pololikashvili’s appointment was announced during UNWTO’s 22nd General Assembly in Chengdu, China on September 14. Pololikashvili was nominated for the post in May from a group of seven candidates but his appointment was voted on and became official this week.

Pololikashvili won’t have to move far to his new post given that his ambassadorship was in Madrid, Spain, also the headquarters of UNWTO.

Pololikashvili’s nomination was somewhat controversial as there were allegations that he traded perks for votes. But outgoing Secretary-General Taleb Rifai of Jordan stressed during the announcement that Pololikashvili’s selection was made “under clean and transparent circumstances,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reports.

 

UNWTO should also give member states more technical expertise, said Pololikashvil. “In this regard, UNWTO should regularly prepare individual recommendations for individual governments to support the sustainable and competitive growth of travel and tourism by developing policy guidelines on destination management.”

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s president and CEO, Gloria Guevara, who’s also new in her role after being appointed in August, said that collaboration between her organization and UNWTO over the past eight years has led to more cooperation between the public and private sectors.

“We are at a critical moment in the development of our sector, where ambitious growth targets need to satisfy not only economic but also environmental and social objectives,” said Guevera, speaking during UNWTO’s General Assembly. “It is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the sector to work together to ensure that travel and tourism, which accounts for 10 percent of the world’s GDP and one in 10 jobs, continues to be a force for good in our world.”

Pololikashvili’s Background

Pololikashvili’s career has included both public and private sector experience; he worked in Georgia’s financial and banking sectors and was CEO of FC Dinamo Tbilisi, a prominent Georgian football team. He was also Georgia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2005-2006 and minister of economic development from 2009-2010.

International arrivals in Georgia during Pololikashvili’s tenure as economic development minister grew from 1.5 million in 2009 to 2.8 million in 2011 as he helped liberalize visa policies for the country – a topic that Rifai, his predecessor, focused on during his tenure.

Pololikashvili is the sixth Secretary-General of the organization since it was founded in 1975. Rifai, who has been Secretary-General since 2010, did not seek re-election for another term and his current term expires at the end of this year.

UNWTO is an influential organization in that it’s part of the UN and meets with heads of state to advise them on tourism policies while also counseling travel brands on tourism policies, guidelines and goals, such as the organization’s international year of sustainable tourism development that many brands have subscribed to. While those functions are important, the organization mainly acts in an advisory role and in many cases, its policies aren’t binding on members.

At age 40, Pololikashvili is nearly 30 years younger than his predecessor and is UNWTO’s first Secretary-General from Eastern Europe. From Pololikashvili’s statements, it’s clear he wants to continue Rifai’s work in visa facilitation, and advocating for safety and security measures that don’t restrict the freedom of travel.

Pololikashvili has also said he wants to continue building UNWTO’s relationship with China, the world’s largest outbound travel market, and work with more destinations to help them with overtourism challenges and develop destination management plans.

With more than 1.2 billion travelers crossing international borders last year, it will be interesting to see how Pololikashvili promotes tourism growth in regions that are already struggling to accommodate visitors.

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Amtrak Ads Call Out Air Travel While Execs Mull Basic Economy

Amtrak

Amtrak is trying to capture new customers who are sick of flying uncomfortably Amtrak’s latest ad campaign is pictured here. Amtrak

Skift Take: Amtrak’s new videos speak the truth about the easy comfort of train travel, while flying basic economy is rife with pain points. But how many flyers will become rail-converts for the comfort?

— Sarah Enelow

Amtrak has a new video ad campaign that takes airlines to task for making passengers uncomfortable. With basic economy — in which cheap airfares eliminate amenities — and having to slog through airport security, endure invasive pat-downs, and squeeze into a jam-packed plane, Amtrak positions itself as offering some relief for frustrated travelers.

“Too many people out there were accepting painful travel experiences,” said Kerry McKelvey, vice president of marketing at Amtrak.

In these videos, Amtrak promotes four free carry-on bags, power outlets and free Wi-Fi, no middle seats, more legroom, the freedom to move about the train and enjoy the observatory car with floor-to-ceiling windows, and generally a more humane experience.

“Traveling shouldn’t feel like work, especially when it’s for fun,” says the campaign’s website.

Basic Economy for Amtrak

To the contrary, outgoing Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman discussed the possibility of introducing basic economy with reduced legroom to increase revenue, as the company struggles with funding and mounting maintenance costs.

Amtrak’s incoming CEO, Richard Anderson — formerly the CEO of Delta Air Lines — has some people worried that Amtrak will mimic the airlines and move forward with restrictive basic economy service. Moorman and Anderson are currently serving as co-CEOs capacities with Anderson fully taking the helm in January 2018.

When asked about the possibility of basic economy, McKelvey said that the current spacious legroom and comfortable seating “will absolutely continue to be part of the Amtrak experience.”

However, barring any future introduction of basic economy: Is taking Amtrak, which has prices frequently running higher than flights, a workable solution for most people?

That depends on the target market.

McKelvey said that for this campaign, called “Break the Travel Quo,” a significant part of the target market is comprised of new Amtrak customers, for example, people who consistently drive or fly, rather than commuters who already use Amtrak regularly.

“We’re zeroing in on the headaches that people have with car travel, all the traffic, the tolls, the inability for people in the car to really socialize and have family time.”

Amtrak is most heavily used in the congested Northeast Corridor of the U.S., in which commuters and business travelers shuttling between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and other hubs rely on trains because of their speed. Cars and popular discount buses like Megabus and BoltBus can get stuck in horrendous traffic.

A startup called Cabin is trying to disrupt that cheap bus market in California by offering sleep pods to make overnight bus rides doable, maybe even pleasurable. Yet much like Amtrak, the price barely undercuts that of flying, if at all.

When it comes to leisure travel, Amtrak has long had difficulty capturing that market because for many of those longer vacations to further-away places, an airplane is much quicker and more affordable. The popularity of basic economy shows that many travelers would rather grit their teeth through the discomfort than pay more.

“We think there’s a lot of longevity in this campaign,” said McKelvey, implying that the pain points of traveling by air aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

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Priceline Bought Momondo and That Was Far Different From Ctrip’s Skyscanner Acquisition

Skift

Momondo Group CEO Hugo Burge at Skift Forum Europe in London on April 4, 2017. Burge left the company after the Priceline Group acquired it. Skift

Skift Take: Priceline’s acquisition of Momondo strengthens Kayak in regions where it had less market share, including the UK, Nordics, and Russia. Keeping Momondo out of the hands of a rival, or a potential one, also protects the Kayak brand and Priceline as a whole.

— Jared Wein

Earlier this week, we launched the latest report in our Skift Research service, A Deep Dive Into Priceline’s Competitive Position in Travel 2017.

Below is an excerpt from our Skift Research Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.

Unlike when Ctrip acquired Skyscanner, which was already quite profitable, Priceline buying Momondo was a much different type of acquisition. In 2016, the Momondo Group generated 90 million pounds in revenue with a 45 percent growth rate. However, it spent heavily on marketing and technology to grow, leading to a negative 9.6 percent operating margin. The pound has been volatile, but using the 2016 year-end rate of 1.23, revenue in U.S. dollars would have been $111 million.

Preview and Buy the Full Report

This means that Priceline purchased the Momondo Group for just under five times 2016 revenue. Looking at 2017, assuming a growth rate between the 45 percent in 2016 and 20 percent, the forward multiple would have been in the 3.5 to 4x range. These multiples are much lower than the 6 to 8x range we have seen in the industry. After the OpenTable writedown, Priceline is clearly being patient on acquisitions and that paid off with a premium brand at a discount price.

Momondo Group Financials in Great Britain Pounds


Source: Company Filings, Skift Estimates

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Momondo Group Financials in U.S. Dollars

Constant currency at 1.23x.

Source: Company Filings, Skift Estimates

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This is the latest in a series of research reports, analyst calls, and data sheets aimed at analyzing the fault lines of disruption in travel. These reports are intended for the busy travel industry decision maker. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. Over 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

After you subscribe, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports, analyst calls, and data sheets conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep-dives on key travel brands. Reports are available online in a responsive design format, or you can also buy each report a la carte at a higher price.

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Will Biometrics Simplify Business Travel? — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Skift Take: New security technology will likely make things better for business travelers, but corporations need to pay attention to the potential safety and privacy ramifications of these solutions.

— Andrew Sheivachman

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.

New security technology has the potential to speed up security checkpoints and enhance the ability of business travelers to get through airport security quickly.

This week we take a look at the ways that different forms of biometric security methods, ranging from face-scanning to fingerprint verification, could make business travel simpler and safer in the future. We also explore the privacy ramifications of such technology and the questions the travel industry should be considering as security measures continue to evolve.

Check below for the other news you need to know, like an expense giant’s move into the travel booking arena and ways that European airlines are innovating.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Writer 

Business of Buying

Certify Buys Booking Tool in Latest Travel and Expense Tie-Up: Expense providers, which have typically connected with clients and their travel management companies, are moving deeper into the business travel booking arena. Read more at Skift

EasyJet Beats Rival Ryanair to Long-Haul Connections: Ryanair has been talking about offering long-haul connections for some time, so it is a coup for EasyJet to get there first. Read more at Skift

United Backtracks on Basic Economy Fares as American Expands Them: As one carrier, United, backs off on basic economy, another, American Airlines, doubles down. Will this clear the field for American? Perhaps. Read more at Skift 

Short-Term Rental Ban in Berlin for Airbnb and Others Appears to Be Eroding: Despite the latest court ruling loosening restrictions on short-term rentals in Berlin, there are still plenty of questions left regarding what the city’s laws on home-sharing really mean. Read more at Skift 

Safety + Security

Supreme Court Agrees to Retain Trump Ban on Most Refugees: The Trump administration’s travel and refugee bans are set to expire within weeks. If the federal government ends up renewing them, we expect the cycle of executive orders and litigation to play out again. Read more at Skift 

UK and France Step Up Hurricane Irma Relief After Criticism From Tourists and Residents: The UK and France are snapping into action and sending aid to their overseas territories that suffered destruction from Hurricane Irma. That’s good news, but both countries probably should have mobilized sooner and planned out their responses more effectively. Read more at Skift 

Disruption + Innovation

Business Travelers Weigh Ease of Biometrics Against Privacy Concerns: Business travelers are embracing the increasing use of facial-recognition software and fingerprint reading at airports to speed lines, but privacy advocates raise concerns about the security of information and its potential use. Employees eventually may be required to divulge their biometric data in order to do their job. Read more at Skift

Supersonic Flights Could Be a Thing Again If the Market Is Large Enough: We think there’s probably demand for this airplane for transatlantic routes. Wouldn’t it be great to fly between London and New York in fewer than three hours? But the airplane would have to make a fuel stop on longer routes, so it might be less useful from, say, Tokyo to Los Angeles or London. Read more at Skift 

Google Sues to Block EU Antitrust Fine as Travel Probe Could Be on the Agenda: Google’s move to appeal the fine will tie up the matter in litigation for an extended period. Meanwhile, much of the travel industry is waiting for the other boot to drop — a probe into Google’s travel practices, as EU officials have hinted. Read more at Skift

Virgin Atlantic CEO on Loyalty and Low-Cost Competition: Virgin Atlantic has a strong brand, but for years it has lagged far behind British Airways in most categories. The upstart has just been too small to be a bona fide competitor. But Virgin Atlantic is finally taking action to ensure it will be more nimble going forward. Read more at Skift

COMMENTS

Skift editors Hannah Sampson [hs@skift.com] and Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Visit Oslo Campaign Rescues Travelers From People-Polluted European Cities

Visit Oslo

Pictured is an image of ‘rescued’ travelers at the National Gallery of Norway as part of Visit Oslo’s latest tourism campaign. Visit Oslo

Skift Take: Visit Oslo doesn’t want to become a shell of itself, lose its Nordic cool character, and attract too many tourists. But it definitely wants a larger slice of international market share, and it is combing through social media for its new campaign to help make that happen.

— Dan Peltier

Oslo, Norway doesn’t have the Mona Lisa nor does it have a world-renowned art museum on par with Paris’ Louvre.

But it also doesn’t have crowds and long wait times at attractions, according to Visit Oslo, the city’s tourism board, and does have attractions, arts, culture and dining on par with any vibrant European capital. And to prove that, as part of a new marketing campaign, it is “rescuing” weary travelers from overcrowded European cities and flying them to Oslo to show them why the city is a great alternative destination.

Oslo city officials want to prevent becoming another Venice or Barcelona, for example, and recently talked to Barcelona city and tourism officials to learn from a city that’s experiencing overtourism.

Related: Watch Skift’s nine-minute documentary on overtourism in Barcelona.

“I believe that there’s a high focus on managing visitor growth by the Oslo county government,” said Christian Lunde, CEO of Visit Oslo. “We don’t want to be a crowded destination. Our government and local communities don’t want us to get in that situation. We’re a compact city with only 670,000 inhabitants but our attractions are quite spread out.”

Lunde said he’s still waiting to hear what Oslo and Barcelona officials discussed to take those learnings back to his organization. But compared with many cities, Oslo is taking a progressive approach by being proactive in preventing overtourism.

Oslo and the rest of Northern Europe, however, have become more popular in recent years. Last year, Norway had 33.1 million domestic and international overnight stays, a five percent increase over 2015. United Nations World Tourism Organization data show international arrivals for Northern Europe grew eight percent year-over-year for the first six months of 2017, the highest growth rate for any European region and one of the highest in the world.

Oslo has only 12,500 hotel beds, said Lunde, compared to London, for instance, which has more than 160,000. “If you go into a big city it’s about the high and low season but we’re trying to make it about medium season all year and do whatever we can to not get in that people pollution problem,” said Lunde. “We have a city where you can visit 12 months a year whether it’s seeing the Northern Lights in the winter or relaxing on the water with a cold beer in the summer.”

Great Escape to Oslo

Visit Oslo chose Sam and Marela Glavas from New Zealand as the first duo for a trip to Oslo. During a trip to Paris last month, the pair posted an Instagram photo with a caption that expressed their frustration with not being able to get a good view of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre because of the crowds. The tourism board reached out to the couple on Instagram and booked them a 48-hour getaway to Oslo with a return to Paris for their onward journey.

Visit Oslo is searching for travelers for its “Great Escape” campaign on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, said Lunde, and its first video for the campaign, which features Sam and Marela (watch below) launched this week across the tourism board’s digital channels.

While in Oslo, Sam and Marela went paddle-boarding, explored a park, checked out an art museum, and sampled food markets, restaurants and bars.

“With quite a small budget, we were thinking how can we reach out to people to market ourselves as an alternative destination and have a good digital footprint?” said Lunde. “We believe this will be good shareable content.”

Visit Oslo is trying to find people interested in art, culture and food who haven’t been to Oslo to feature in the campaign.

“We’re monitoring these platforms manually so it’s a lot of work and it took us almost two weeks to find a couple in Paris where we know there are many crowds,” he said. “We’re searching on social media for people expressing people pollution in a certain way. “We’re trying to catch people on the move who are already in a European city and have the ability to take a 48-hour trip to Oslo. We also hope a trip will make them want to come back to our city.”

The video has already received a lot of engagement from Visit Oslo’s domestic Norwegian market and has also garnered interest from as far as Japan, Lunde said.

“We’re showing that we are a digital city and reach out to people who are interested in visiting us, not just a billboard in the train station of people who we don’t actually know who we’re reaching,” he said.

Lunde said the destination has seen huge interest from Asia due to Northern Lights tourism. U.S. arrivals, which he credits in part because of the growth of Norwegian Air and SAS on U.S. routes, are up 20 percent in Oslo this summer from last year. Oslo’s largest international markets are Germany, Sweden, Spain and the UK.

Watch Visit Oslo’s “Kiwis get rescued from vacayfail” video below.

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Google Could Take Revenge on Uber With $1 Billion Lyft Investment

Lyft

An Alphabet investment in Lyft could help subsidize rides and drivers’ pay, as well as be used for additional marketing. Lyft

Skift Take: While Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit is tied up with litigation against Uber, Alphabet/Google can inject some much-needed cash into Lyft. Side note: Uber’s new CEO, the former Expedia boss, would have another reason to be miffed at Google.

— Dennis Schaal

Alphabet Inc. has held conversations with Lyft Inc. about a potential investment in recent weeks, signalling strong support for Uber Technologies Inc.’s main U.S. competitor, according to people familiar with the matter.

An investment of about $1 billion in Lyft may come from Google or CapitalG, Alphabet’s private-equity arm, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. A deal may not come together. Alphabet and Lyft declined to comment.

Alphabet is also an Uber shareholder through its GV venture capital arm, but Waymo, a unit of Alphabet, is currently suing Uber over self-driving car technology. As the relationship has deteriorated, Waymo signed a partnership with Lyft to work together on testing autonomous vehicles.

While Lyft has recently focused on controlling spending, the cash would allow the San Francisco-based startup to pursue more aggressive growth with subsidies for drivers, discounts for riders and marketing. Lyft kicked off a major television campaign this month that stars Jeff Bridges.

With an extra $1 billion, Lyft would be able to ensure its independence for the near future, something co-founder John Zimmer has said is a priority. But some investors have suggested Alphabet would be a natural home for the ride-hailing startup. Lyft held informal talks with Alphabet and other potential acquirers last year but didn’t pursue a sale.

Lyft has gained market share this year as Uber has bent under a series of self-inflicted scandals. Uber faces at least three U.S. probes and several high-profile lawsuits. Dara Khosrowshahi, the former Expedia Inc. chief executive officer, took over as Uber’s new chief last week. He’s looking to complete a fundraising deal of his own: Uber is advancing on an investment from SoftBank Group Corp. and others of as much as $12 billion, most of which would allow existing shareholders to cash out.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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

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Pilot Qualification Standards To Be Reduced Under U.S. Airline-Safety Panel Recommendations

Compass Airlines

Regional carriers, including Compass Airlines, pictured above, are having more trouble finding qualified pilots than a few years ago. Some want to fix that by reducing the experience prospective hires must have. Compass Airlines

Skift Take: Executives at regional airlines — such as United Express, American Eagle and Delta Connection — tend to dislike newish rules requiring first officers to have 1,500 flight hours before they can fly for a larger commericial airline. But let’s not forget this rule was implemented for a reason. We need experienced pilots.

— Brian Sumers

An influential industry panel plans to vote Thursday on recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration eliminate or scale back dozens of safety rules, including one on airline pilot qualifications.

The recommendations are contained in a report to the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee in response to President Donald Trump’s directives to cut government regulations.

Regional airlines have been fighting the pilot qualifications rule since it was adopted by the FAA in response to a sweeping aviation safety law passed by Congress after the last fatal crash of a U.S. passenger airliner.

Lawmakers said at the time that they were concerned about reports in the wake of the crash of Colgan Flight 3407 in February 2009 near Buffalo, New York, that some rapidly growing regional airlines were hiring first officers with far less experience than pilots at major airlines. All 49 people on board and a man on the ground were killed after the captain responded incorrectly to safety systems, causing the plane to stall.

Before that crash, airlines were allowed to hire first officers with as few as 250 hours of flying experience. Airlines would then move first officers into a captain’s seat as soon as they had the minimum 1,500 hours of flying experience.

After the crash, the requirements were changed so that a minimum of 1,500 hours were needed for first officers as well as for captains, leading to more experienced first officers.

The report recommends permitting pilots with less than 1,500 hours to qualify for an “air transport” license to fly a passenger-carrying plane if they receive academic training from their airline.

Airlines say the current rule is acerbating a pilot shortage that has caused some regional airlines to cancel flights. The problem, they say, is that it can cost prospective pilots as much as they might pay for a four-year college education to acquire the greater flying hours they now need to qualify for an air transport license. As a result, fewer people are willing to pursue careers as pilots.

Airline pilot unions and safety advocates say the problem is regional airlines don’t pay high enough entry-level salaries to attract as many pilots as they need.

The Air Line Pilots Association International said in dissenting comments appended to the report that it opposes the change. It said the pilot supply in the United States remains strong.

A group representing the families of victims of the Colgan crash said in a statement last week that regional airlines have taken their case to the advisory panel “to bypass the legislative process where they have run into considerable resistance.”

In June, the Senate Commerce committee passed a bill that included a provision allowing prospective airline pilots to substitute academic training for flying hours. Opposition to the provision from Democrats has prevented Republicans from bringing the bill to the floor for a vote.

The pilots union has said the provision would lead to “pilot puppy mills.”

The report also includes recommendations on changes to safety regulations for airliners. These changes would affect myriad rules including those governing the strength of hinges, emergency exit markings and whether ashtrays should be required in restrooms since smoking isn’t allowed on planes.

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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

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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New Research: The Habits and Behaviors of U.S. and Canadian Travelers

Skift Take: A new study from Expedia Media delves deep into the behaviors and preferences of U.S. and Canadian travelers.

— Dawn Rzeznikiewicz

Travelers from around the world demonstrate nuances when it comes to how they travel, from shopping for and booking a trip, to their preferences on what types of vacations they prefer. A new study from Expedia Media Solutions looked at key differences in habits and behaviors between American travelers and Canadian travelers.

American travelers tend to take more frequent, but shorter vacations. On average, they spend 6.7 days per trip, while Canadian travelers spend an average of 8.7 days on a trip. However, Americans take two more trips per year, for a total of 4.4 trips annually, vs. the 2.8 trips Canadians take yearly.

Americans are also more likely to have already decided on a destination than Canadians, and tend to stay within the country for their travels, with 82 percent reporting their last vacation was a domestic one. Comparatively, the majority of Canadians—59 percent—travel internationally. American and Canadian travelers have a similar tendency to have booked their last trip via online travel agency, with about half doing so. However, Americans are slightly more likely than Canadian travelers to have booked via hotel site, at 32 percent vs. 23 percent.

Here are three key takeaways from the study on how destination marketing organizations, hoteliers and other brands can reach and influence these travelers.

● Highlight deals on travel and transportation. 91 percent of both American and Canadian travelers said that they look for deals before making a travel decision, and that budget is an important factor for them in taking a trip. North American travelers are more likely to stay in hotels and travel by plane than travelers from other countries.

● Use compelling imagery and informative content in your marketing channels. Informative content from destinations and/or travel brands is more likely to influence U.S. travelers than Canadians. About half of both traveler sets said appealing imagery in advertisements and informative content help influence their decision-making process.

● Create a multi-screen strategy with relevant content for how and at what stage people are using various devices. North American travelers are primarily using desktops or laptops during the inspiration, research and booking phases, though smartphone usage dominates during the trip itself.

For more insights on travelers in North America and to find out more about how to reach them, download the full study here.

This content was created collaboratively by Expedia Media Solutions and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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