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Travel Industry Roundup | September 23

This week in the travel industry: Marriott officially acquired Starwood Hotels, Uber bet big on self-driving cars, and Airbnb raised a whole lot of money. Read about those and other stories in Rocketrip’s news roundup. 


Airbnb Raises New Round at $30 Billion Valuation

Airbnb solidified its position as the world’s second most valuable startup with a massive new round of fundraising. Fortune reports that the San Francisco-based company has brought in at least $555 million in new primary equity at a $30 billion valuation, for a Series F round that could eventually total $850 million.


Uber Announces New Self-Driving Research Center in Detroit

With an on-paper valuation of $68 billion, Uber is the only startup worth more than Airbnb. This week, following the unveiling of a self-driving car service in Pittsburgh, Uber announced it will increase its investment in autonomous vehicles with a research facility in the Motor City. Self-driving cars are very much the technology of the moment, with companies such as Google, Ford, and GM also pouring funds into research initiatives. The Detroit News reports that new facility will allow Uber to collaborate with local suppliers and auto manufacturers.


Hilton Testing Restrictive Rates

Business Travel News reports that Hilton Worldwide is experimenting with new rate types that will make cancelling rooms more difficult. Hilton tested a similar program last year, in which refundable and nonrefundable booking options were made available at different price points. Cancellation premiums are already standard for airlines; Hilton’s experiment suggests they could become more common for hotels too. For more about cost-effective travel booking, check out Rocketrip’s posts on How to Save on Hotels and How to Save on Flights.


Marriott Completes Acquisition of Starwood

The biggest news in the hotel industry this week was Marriott officially completing its acquisition of Starwood. Rocketrip’s own Dan Ruch wrote in Inc. about what travelers should expect from the largest hotel company in the world.


No Decision Yet on Future of Virgin America

In other merger news, Skift reports that Alaska Airlines will not make any decisions about the future of the Virgin America brand before the fourth quarter of this year. In April, Alaska Airlines announced it would acquire Virgin America. Though there was speculation that the two companies might operate independently, it now seems more likely that they’ll be fully integrated, with Alaska absorbing certain well-known features of the Virgin in-flight experience, such as mood-lighting and snazzy safety videos.

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