VR Live-Streaming of PyeongChang Olympics Points to Future of Virtual Reality in Travel

Virtual reality is reaching critical mass. This year’s Olympics coverage could be a watershed. While still limited and still clunky, the time for travel brands to start budgeting for VR content is fast approaching.

Crypto Assets Practically Indestructible. Rise of The Machines?

Unpopular cryptos fade into obscurity as newer and shinier applications steal adopters. But that popularity doesn’t need to come from people. Imagine a world completely taken over by interconnected devices. Most call this the internet of things. 

ISP Slow Lanes and Fast Lanes Could Spell Trouble For Hotel Bookings.

We wonder how the pending pull-back of Obama-era ISP regulations might impact hotel marketing and distribution. Is we do indeed see fast lanes and slow lanes, then hotels as a consumer category could be impacted more generally. Imagine hotel websites competing on access speeds.  No thanks, says the customer. I'll just go to my favorite OTA where I'm guaranteed a seamless (and speedy) path to  purchase.

Amadeus and Expedia Partnership Good for Airlines

Amadeus and Expedia Affiliate Network deserve each other. Both business models go beyond simple logic yet somehow turn enormous profit. With EAN’s hotels Amadeus is answering at least one pain point from the airlines. They want to cross-sell hotel content and GDSs don’t have the inventory that the OTAs have.

Uber is a taxi service, say European Courts

We all have a sense of what an automated future will look like.  Much of this will play out at the local level. Today European courts ruled that Uber is a taxi service and should be treated as one by regulators. Federations, nations and cities all go about controlling the gig economy in different ways and for different reasons. The Union wants to stall U.S. enterprises to give European counterparts a chance. Nations see tax revenue potential. Local regulators want to create jobs and to keep their constituents happy. We wonder how this will help or hurt Europe’s innovation economy.

Spike in Russia tourism to Cuba coincides with trade renaissance, as U.S. disengages

Russian visitor numbers to Cuba surpassed 100,000 in 2017, an increase of 67 percent from the previous year. Russia exports to Cuba also jumped 81 percent, up to $225 million during the January-September period, official Russian data shows. “We can call this period a renaissance,” Aleksandr Bogatyr, Russia’s trade representative in Cuba, said in an interview With Reuters. Russia is Cuba’s largest trading partner, second to China. One hundred miles away, Trump pulls back relationship-building efforts with Caribbean nation. The island clearly remains a geopolitical and economic backdrop for the U.S. Overall, we are discouraged by decades of misguided U.S. policy toward Cuba and Latin America more generally.

Amazon Wins This Christmas with its “Alexa Everywhere” Strategy

Amazon would probably give away its Echo and Dot speakers away for free if it could get away with it. Some estimate Amazon currently has 75% market share in the space, largely because of their first-mover advantage. And, hardware is often sticky once consumers buy in. This will give Besos and team time to catch up on Alexa’s capability as it goes toe-to-toe with Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Amazon’s early lead working with hotels and hospitality will also become the retail giant’s toehold in travel. Once inked, corporate contracts are much harder to break.