Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, April 12, 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 looks at the surge of local European travel that the region is are preparing for this year, a business travel brand that’s promising future growth, and a fintech-backed loyalty plan for hospitality brands.
American Express Global Business Travel, like other major corporate travel agencies, is still struggling to hit pre-pandemic metrics. But as it plans to go public later this year, the company is assuring investors that business travel will return to normal in the next two years, writes Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.
Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott told investors at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday that its bookings for corporate clients only recovered to 61 percent of pre-pandemic figures in the week up to April 2. But the company now predicts global business travel spend will hit between 90 and 100 percent of 2019 levels by next year, citing information from credit rating agency Fitch Ratings and the U.S. Travel Association.
Next, tourism in Europe is set for an enormous surge as a new survey revealed that Europeans are planning to travel at a record rate this summer. Still, amidst European authorities’ efforts to limit transportation emissions, travelers are also expressing an increased preference for flying, writes Global Tourism Reporter Lebawit Lily Girma.
The European Travel Commission’s monthly survey of consumers in 10 major markets on the continent found 77 percent of Europeans are planning to travel this spring or summer. That’s a 10 percentage point jump from last year. More than half of respondents plan to visit another European country while 30 percent are planning to travel domestically.
But demand for air travel among European consumers has also gone up by 7 percentage points since last December while interest in traveling by train and bus has dropped to a record low since August 2020. Faced with the prospect of a rise in European tourism transportation emissions, Girma writes the commission’s report includes steps destinations can take to mitigate any negative environmental impacts caused by increased visitation.
Finally, smaller hotel brands like Selina have historically been unable to launch co-branded credit cards because large banks have rarely worked with such companies. But Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill reports that financial technology startups are giving hotel brands like Selina a boost in their efforts to launch rewards cards.
Selina, a brand with more than 130 premium hostels and hotels that caters to customers in their twenties and thirties, is testing out its Selina Visa Card, which is being developed with assistance from fintech startup and neobank Imprint. Imprint’s co-founder and CEO Daragh Murphy said companies like his can help travel brands launch financial services products in under a month.
And as Murphy believes that big banks traditionally don’t build the greatest consumer-facing technology, O’Neill writes it’s plausible that a wave of fintech companies could challenge incumbent banks when it comes to creating travel rewards cards.