Week in Review - 2/3/20

By Industry Intel posted 02-03-2020 00:00


American, Delta and United airlines suspended flights to and from China due to the coronavirus outbreak. So have many other carriers around the globe. American and United halted those flights until late March. Delta said it expected the suspension to run through April 30.


Many companies also stopped all travel to China and closed facilities. Others have looked into purchasing large numbers of body temperature screening devices and big quantities of hand sanitizers for workers and guests at locations in China.


Common responses also have included targeted communications to affected travellers and messaging on corporate intranets and in online booking tools. Some companies are encouraging or requiring returning travellers to check with their doctors and work remotely for 14 days.


Some larger companies activated pandemic task forces and global crisis management teams. Those can include risk, security, medical, human resources, expatriate/relocation, travel management and other departments.


The United States versus Sabre antitrust trial opened in federal court. The U.S. Department of Justice is attempting to block Sabre's acquisition of airline tech firm Farelogix. The big question is whether the acquisition would inhibit competition and harm consumers. For corporate travel constituents, the case is shedding light on distribution economics in deals between airlines, global distribution system operators like Sabre and travel management companies.


Sabre and other GDSs share some of the revenue they earn from suppliers with travel management companies as incentives. For TMCs, that income complements other revenue streams like corporate client fees and commissions from airlines or hotels. Reduced GDS income could send TMCs hunting for increases elsewhere. In the past, that has sometimes come from clients.


Trial evidence included an email showing Sabre had offered an airline a deal with lower fees for bookings through NDC connections than through traditional GDS processes. Such a development could reduce what TMCs get from Sabre, and therefore pressure TMCs to raise client fees. Some TMCs already charge extra fees for bookings through nontraditional means.


Testimony is scheduled to conclude this Thursday. There's no jury. Chief United States District Judge Leonard Stark will deliver a finding to resolve the bench trial.


Dynamic pricing hype? The The New York Times weighed in on the "cat-and-mouse game" of air and hotel shopping, highlighting"hyperdynamic pricing" thanks to machine intelligence. The paper quoted Angela Zutavern of technology consulting firm AlixPartners: "Along with historical and seasonal information, the new artificial intelligence systems scan the web for global news events, weather predictions, trending Google searches, social media posts, local event schedules and other factors that could affect demand." Taking a corporate travel customer's view, the Times touched on re-shopping technology (think Tripbam and Yapta), mentioning Egencia's proprietary re-shopping service.


Lodging rate forecasts weaken. STR and Tourism Economics said if their projections for no growth in 2020 revenue per available room came true, it would be a first since 2009. The pair expect steady supply and demand for this year and next. Analysts at CBRE see short-term rentals like those sold through Airbnb as having an impact. The aforementioned re-shopping services likely also deserve some credit (or blame, if you're a hotel).


Industry vet Maria Chevalier joined PredictX. The data analytics firm hired her as EVP of customer success, a newly created position. A corporate travel industry veteran, Chevalier previously worked as a travel buyer for HP and Johnson & Johnson. At PredictX she'll assist clients in gleaning relevant data from business intelligence and predictive analytics platforms and using it to communicate with internal stakeholders and improve program performance.


Green good. Mobile itinerary app maker TripIt, part of SAP Concur, put carbon emissions tracking and offsets literally in the business traveller's hand. That's good since many employers are not addressing business travel's environmental impact.


Compiled by the editors of TheCompanyDime.com.