Queensgate’s $400 Million Freehand Purchase Showcases Hostel-Boutique Hotel Hybrids

Freehand

Private equity giant Queensgate is hoping to replicate the feel of Freehand Hotels across world, like the common area here in a Freehand hotel in New York City. Freehand

Skift Take: We first heard about this bid back in July. Now it’s a done deal and Queensgate shows no signs of letting up as it moves to push ahead with hostel-boutique hotel combinations. And at $400 million, it’s not a bad exit for billionaire Ron Burkle either.

— Tom Lowry

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Delta Hints at Simpler Fares and 7 Other Top Aviation Stories This Week

Andrés Nieto Porras  / Flickr

As it aims to be more consumer-driven, Delta is hinting at a return to simpler fares for plane tickets. Shown is a Delta carrier at JFK Airport in New York City. Andrés Nieto Porras / Flickr

Skift Take: This week in aviation, Delta’s president suggests the airline could throw back to a simpler fare structure — or at least something similar. Meanwhile, travel leaders are already picking sides ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

— Jasmine Ganaishlal

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Airbnb Faces New Challenge With Google Vacation Rental Biz and 10 Other Top Hospitality Stories This Week

Airbnb

Skift analyzes the potential pros and cons if Airbnb were to join Google’s new vacation rentals business — which the homesharing giant notably has not to date. Pictured is an Airbnb property in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Airbnb

Skift Take: This week in hospitality, it’s a tricky business for Airbnb as the company confronts Google’s new vacation rental business. Meanwhile, we take a look at how tourism and the hospitality sector are faring in the Dominican Republic following a lethal summer.

— Jasmine Ganaishlal

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Third-Party Excursions Popular With Cruisers and 14 Other Top Tourism Stories This Week

Nicolas Vigier  / Flickr

Cruise lines have faced more competition from third-party companies as cruisers prefer independent tours over their excursions. Walking tours along Amsterdam’s streets, pictured here, are an example of such excursions. Nicolas Vigier / Flickr

Skift Take: This week in tourism, cruise lines are feeling the heat as third-party company tours become more of a hit with passengers and travel advisors. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s new tourism frontier is put to the test as the kingdom loosens restrictions in a bid to bring in more non-Muslim visitors.

— Jasmine Ganaishlal

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In-Flight Seatback Screens May Be Going Extinct

Kiyoshi Ota  / Bloomberg

Images of the seatback screens on an Airbus A350 aircraft in 2017. U.S. carriers are split on whether single-aisle fleets need them, but all agree that better Wi-Fi means less need for seatback screens. Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

Skift Take: U.S. carriers are split on whether single-aisle fleets need seatback screens. Consumer tastes are changing as in-flight Wi-Fi quality improves.

— Sean O’Neill

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