U.S. Eases Travel Restrictions for Fully Vaccinated Global Travelers and 9 Other Top Travel Stories

Skift Take

In Skift’s top stories this week, the U.S. announces it’s reopening to fully vaccinated overseas air travelers, Expedia Group consolidates its three three loyalty programs, and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky envisions remote work enabling employees to live in less-expensive areas.

Throughout the week we are posting original stories night and day covering news and travel trends, including on the impact of coronavirus. Every weekend we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.

U.S. to Ease Travel Restrictions for All Vaccinated Travelers Worldwide From November: This is the most significant international travel news since the start of pandemic restrictions being put in place. Watch travel bookings go crazy — and the share prices of travel companies.

Tripadvisor Forced by Hotel Chains to Reverse Course on Subscriptions to Cash-Back Model: We said all along that major hotel chain buy-in would go a long way toward determining the trajectory of Tripadvisor Plus. Now it appears that big hotel brands may participate, but the subscription program is scaled back and much less compelling.

Expedia Consolidates 3 Loyalty Programs With New Rewards for Vacation Rentals: With Marriott Bonvoy making loyalty inroads, and subscription programs having a moment, Expedia Group is consolidating its far-flung loyalty programs in a move that coincides with its strategy to simplify its operations.

Concur Co-Founder Is Back With Biz Travel Startup Spotnana: Second seasons often disappoint, but Steve Singh’s comeback bodes well for blue-chip corporations. Singh is a business travel icon, and his ideas and energy may rev up the metabolism of travel managers, whether or not they buy into his new startup Spotnana.

All-Star Investors Katzenberg, Thiel, and Tosi Take Stake in Travel Startup Flyr: The WestCap Group has led a $150 million round in Flyr, a startup that helps travel companies boost their revenue. “Mogul management” appears to be the new “revenue management.”

Airbnb CEO Sees the New Age of Mobility Redefining the World of Travel: Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky presented his vision for a dramatically changed travel industry of the future. The issue that no one can answer right is how enduring some of these trends will be.

TWA Hotel Owner: Hospitality Needs to Adopt the Airline Pricing Model: Airlines shed their money-losing reputation by unbundling products and services and charging passengers on an à la carte basis. The recovering hotel industry could deploy the concept to make more money coming out of the pandemic.

The Big Questions on the Future of Travel We’re Grappling With in 2021 and Beyond: These are strangely precarious and hopeful times. As the top global executives in travel gather this week at Skift Global Forum, these are the big questions they are grappling with — and our editors will push them on, on stage — even as some answers have emerged in the last year.

Hilton CEO: Business Travel Demand Will Eclipse 2019 Levels in 3 Years: Don’t discount the return of business travel demand, but Hilton has an advantage in having a bulk of its business transient traffic coming from smaller companies. Those relying on major corporate traffic to fill hotel rooms shouldn’t get too excited quite yet.

Southwest’s Incoming CEO Says Hiring Will Be a Big Early Challenge: Southwest Airlines’ Robert Jordan is mostly excited about his new job but also “20 percent terrified.” And for good reason, he takes the helm as the carrier navigates a hiring crunch in the midst of the recovery from the worst crisis in its history.

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