| | |

Week in Review

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for the Bahamas, Haiti and a travel alert for Cuba. Even Walt Disney World has closed its doors for the fourth time ever since its gates first opened in 1971, CNBC reports. According to USA TODAY, there are an estimated 4,500 airline cancellations since Wednesday, largely due to Category 4 Matthew. The same source reports airlines also expanded their change-fee waivers to cover most of the region affected by the storm.

According to Reuters, the UN approved a deal that will begin penalizing airlines in 2021 for emissions on international routes that exceed 2020 levels. Although some countries have refused to take part, The New York Times reports over 190 countries have agreed to participate in the voluntary phase. Skift reports the deal faces criticism due to the fact that the first six years of the deal rely on voluntary participation, which means countries could easily withdraw from the plan. The deal has also faced backlash for failing to trim enough emissions, as it is only expected to cost airlines less than two percent of revenues between $1.5 billion and $6.2 billion in 2025.

Recent actions on visa policy have raised concerns in the global travel industry and GBTA urges policymakers to keep visa-free travel reciprocity in place between Europe and the United States. Reintroducing visa requirements for U.S. travelers would negatively impact both the EU’s economy and the long-standing relationship between the EU and US.

In acquisition news, Travel Weekly shares American Express Global Business Travel has acquired KDS and Skift reports Red Lion has successfully acquired Vantage Hospitality for $27 million. Red Lion acquired nearly 1,000 hotel properties in the deal, which took less than a month to complete.

USA TODAY reports Global Entry is expanding to nine more airports in Alaska, California, Louisiana, Missouri and Vermont. The program allows international travelers to avoid long customs and immigration lines when re-entering the country.

Skift notes British Airways will begin charging for food on its short haul flights in the UK starting January 2017 in an effort to compete with low-cost carriers Easyjet and Ryanair. The same source claims Dubai is set to be the world’s busiest airport by 2020, anticipating 83 million passengers in 2016 alone. 4Hoteliers shares the news of a partnership between Shangri-La and Singapore Airlines that will offer additional benefits for travelers who use either of the companies’ services.

Shortly after acquiring Starwood and becoming the largest global hotel company, Marriott has expanded into Africa, opening its first property in Rwanda. USA TODAY claims this is the first time Marriott has ventured into Sub-Saharan Africa in its history. According to Tnooz, Marriott has also launched a startup accelerator called TestBED. The program aims to “find and accelerate tech startups that enhance the travel experience.”

According to Business Traveller, IHG-owned Kimpton has announced new hotels in the Miami and Tampa area. Tnooz reports business travel hotel booking service Roomex recently raised €3.5 million to expand its online service. The service currently boasts over 550,000 properties worldwide.

A new report from the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Cvent, finds 49 percent of event planners report their marketing departments are always or often involved in event planning and execution. The report examines the prevalence and types of cross-departmental collaboration between event planners and marketing departments. The most recent GBTA BTI Outlook – Annual Global Report and Forecast identifies the top industries for business travel and finds food processing and services accounts for $112.1 billion USD, or 9.2 percent of the total global business travel market.

According to Travel Weekly, Sabre launched a mobile app that provides business travelers with booking options, itinerary management, messaging features and travel risk management solutions. The app was designed to replace multiple apps, after a recent study by the GBTA Foundation and Sabre found business travelers use an average of nine apps for travel management. Buying Business Travel reports Egencia has launched an app for Apple and Android watches that provides real-time travel updates, ground transportation options and more.

This week’s list:

How to get extra legroom for free – and other top tips to make your flight more comfortable