U.S. Holiday Travel Season May Be Largest Ever



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Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at U.S. holiday travel, Hilton’s historic IPO, and Chinese travelers in New York City.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Monday, December 12. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

A large number of Americans are planning to travel this holiday season. How many? Roughly 115 million, according to the latest forecast from AAA, which predicts this holiday season will be one of its largest on record. 

It projects 7.5 million travelers will fly this year, topping the record set in 2019, noted Airlines Reporter Meghna Maharishi, who added that U.S. airlines are under pressure to be ready for any extreme weather. Winter storms caused airlines to cancel thousands of flights last year. 

Next, Hilton went public 10 years ago Monday in the hotel industry’s biggest IPO ever. Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill lists 10 takeaways from one of the industry’s most significant events.

O’Neill notes one lesson for investors is that a well-priced public debut at the right company can be a great investment. In addition, Hilton used the proceeds from the IPO to pay down debt as well as help it expand. The company currently has twice as many rooms under development than it did at the time of the IPO.  

Furthermore, Hilton now has 22 brands, up from 10 a decade ago, and it has chosen to develop them in-houseO’Neill writes that strategy contrasts with the acquisition-first approach of most hotel companies. 

Finally, Chinese travelers won’t be returning to New York City at pre-pandemic levels next year. Travel executives believe affordability and limited flights to the U.S. are hurting the recovery, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

Peter van Berkel, chair of the International Inbound Travel Association, said it’s unaffordable for the average Chinese traveler to come to the U.S. Economy airfares from China to the U.S. can run more than $3,500, he stated during a panel discussion with New York City tourism leaders. Habtemariam also notes that flights between the U.S. and China haven’t recovered to 2019 numbers. 

However, Vijay Dandapani, CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City, expressed optimism that the city would see a major rebound in Chinese tourism next year. 



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