The Ins and Outs for Travel Agents in Planning Billionaires’ Honeymoons

Fireworks accompany the second course of a private dinner at Palazzo Avino in a trip booked by travel agency Ovation Vacations. The rich are different from you and me and that’s never truer than in how outlandish their honeymoons are.

Skift Take: A postnuptial trip by a billionaire or celebrity can be as over-the-top as the big day itself. Some of the requests that elite travel agency Ovation Vacations have handled are entertaining to hear.

— Sean O’Neill

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Apple Leisure Group CEO Says Mark Travel Merger Is Win-Win for Travel Agents

JJBers

Travel agencies like this Liberty Travel store in Warwick, Rhode Island, will be better positioned with the Apple Leisure Group-Mark Travel merger, Apple Leisure’s CEO argues. JJBers

Skift Take: Many travel agents will have the benefit of selling a wider variety of packages from one distribution channel because of this deal, but will this industry giant really want to give travel agents, and their clients, the best rates if agents don’t have anywhere else to turn? Time will tell.

— Dan Peltier

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Apple Leisure Group to Merge With Mark Travel in Consolidation of Legacy Players

Apple Leisure Group will acquire Mark Travel Corp., including its popular brands like Funjet Vacations and United Vacations. Pictured is Apple Leisure Group CEO Alex Zozaya (left) speaking with Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman at Skift Global Forum in New York City in September 2017.

Skift Take: This transaction makes one of the largest private players in leisure travel, Apple Leisure Group, even bigger and sweetens the potential reward for the almost inevitable private equity sale of its assets.

— Andrew Sheivachman

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Marriott and Hilton’s Group Commission Cuts Put Pressure on Industry

Andrew Harnik

The Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington, D.C. Marriott International’s commission cuts on group bookings are rippling across the travel industry. Andrew Harnik

Skift Take: As hotel chains have shifted their business models over the last decade, keeping owners happy has become the priority. Slashing group booking commissions for intermediaries saves owners money, so it’s easy to see how the largest U.S. chains will follow the example of Marriott and Hilton in the near future.

— Andrew Sheivachman

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MGM’s Lawsuits Have Outraged Las Vegas Shooting Victims

Alex Gallardo

Jason McMillan, 36, of Riverside, a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot and paralyzed in the Oct, 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting, reacts as he talks about that evening and is upset by MGM’s decision, during a personal account brought together by attorneys at a news conference in Newport Beach, Calif., Monday, July 23, 2018. Behind McMillan are images of the shooting victims of the October 1, 2017 shooting. Victims of the fatal mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival are outraged they are being sued by MGM, which owns the hotel where the gunman opened fire.
Alex Gallardo

Skift Take: Good luck to MGM Resorts for trying to undo the public relations and perception damage that this legal maneuvering has caused.

— Deanna Ting

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Hotel Direct Bookings Remain Flat Despite Big Marketing Push

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. For the fourth consecutive year, The Ritz-Carlton hotels brand was ranked No. 1 in guest satisfaction in North America by J.D. Power.

Skift Take: Overall guest satisfaction with hotels in North America is at an all-time high. Still, that doesn’t mean the hotel industry should be congratulating itself; there’s still work to be done.

— Deanna Ting

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AccorHotels Sets Up $1 Billion Fund With Qatar Partner to Focus on Africa

The view from the Fairmont Mount Kenya, which is currently part of AccorHotels’ portfolio in Africa. AccorHotels, along with Qatar’s Katara Hospitality, are investing $1 billion in hotels throughout sub-Saharan Africa over the next five to seven years.

Skift Take: So much for being asset light. However, this strategy does align with previous comments AccorHotels’ CEO has made about wanting to lead in emerging markets, Africa included.

— Deanna Ting

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Small Luxury Hotels of the World Appoints New CEO

A superior room at The Ampersand Hotel in London, which is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The collection of luxury independent hotels has appointed a new CEO.

Skift Take: As the big hotel companies increase their focus on soft brand collections, it’ll become even tougher for collections like Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Relais & Châteaux, and Leading Hotels of the World to compete. Ferret has some stiff competition to battle in the coming years.

— Deanna Ting

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Uganda to Borrow From Overseas to Revive National Airline

Uganda will borrow from Canadian and European credit agencies to fund jet acquisitions from Bombardier Inc. and Airbus SE to revive its national airline that’s been defunct for more than two decades.

Skift Take: Maintaining a national carrier has already proven too difficult in some parts of Africa. Hopefully Ugandan Airlines can learn from the success of competitors like Ethiopian Airlines.

— Sarah Enelow-Snyder

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