This past year was bookended by the first steps toward normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba and two events that shook the industry in decidedly different ways. The November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris were a grim reminder of a new challenge that travelers and their agents must face when planning future trips. The following week came Marriott International’s announcement that it was acquiring Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The $12.2 billion proposed buy was seen by many as a portent of more such mergers — and indeed, within a month of that development came word that AccorHotels had signed an agreement to acquire FRHI Holdings, parent company of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel. The Marriott-Starwood deal would not only create the largest lodging company, but many in the business see it as a sign that consolidation within the hotel industry may be its best bet to defend against disruptive forces that include Airbnb and online travel agencies. Get the full story at Travel Agent Central