Daily Podcast: Travel Startup Investments on the Rise

Skift Take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, February 18, in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast talks about the rebound in travel startup investments, Hyatt’s comparative struggles, and Delta’s new plan to lure millennials.



Episode Notes

Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

Hyatt executives spent much of a Thursday investor call touting improvements the company made in numerous performance metrics over the past year. However, those improvements did not include Hyatt returning to profitability in 2021, unlike its major rivals, writes Hospitality Reporter Cameron Sperance.

The Chicago-based company reported losses of $29 million for the fourth quarter loss and $203 million for all of 2021. Why was Hyatt in the red in contrast to other prominent U.S. hotel companies? Sperance writes one possible reason is that many of its brands cater to the kind of business travel that hasn’t happened in large numbers during the pandemic. Despite CEO Mark Hoplamazian claiming an improvement in business transient travel demand for the fourth quarter, that sector of Hyatt’s business had only hit 44 percent of 2019 levels.

We turn next to an area where the travel industry showed signs of an enormous rebound in 2021. Travel startups were a significant beneficiary of the increase in venture capital investments, writes Research Analyst Seth Borko for Skift Research’s latest report.

The report, Venture Investment Trends in 2022, revealed that travel startups raised $8.6 billion last year, a figure that’s 90 percent of 2019 levels and a 73 percent increase from 2020. Borko adds that research found a shift in where many investors have deployed capital, with the Asia-Pacific region emerging a major focus for new ventures.

The report also examines in depth topics such as the size of the travel startup financing market and major 2021 funding by region, company and sector.

We end today with Delta Air Lines efforts to capture younger travelers, a segment of the population that has led the air travel recovery. The carrier has become the latest travel company to launch a buy-now, pay-later function, which it believes will help provide trip flexibility for travelers, writes Airlines Reporter Edward Russell.

The Atlanta-based airline debuted its “Plan It” tool on its website and app on Thursday. The platform gives potential travelers three options to pay for their trips in installments over three to 24 months. In addition, Delta travelers who use “Plan It” with a co-branded credit card receive all of that card’s benefits, such as free checked bags or lounge access.

Delta executives believe the addition of “Plan It” gives them a substantial leg up in the competition to attract younger travelers as President Glen Hauenstein said issues of price tend to be most important for that segment. The tool enables users to spread the cost of an expensive airplane ticket out over several months, which can make travel accessible for more people.

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