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Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb’s Flexible Searches Working To Add Demand, Moving Beyond Intent To Inspiration

2 years ago

Airbnb’s flexible search — its “I’m Flexible” feature for those not decided on dates, duration or destinations — is a big hit, according to the company and in its Q1 2022 earnings it provided some additional evidence and numbers. It said that the feature was used 2 billion times in the quarter, up from 800 million in the previous quarter. This has lessons for the company including its potential revamp of search coming and learnings for other online travel companies to lean into.

In the earnings call, here is what CEO Brian Chesky had to say about it: “The reason we launched it is we saw more people were flexible. And the challenge is this for 25 years, travel search has basically been the same. There’s a search box. And the search box ask you where you’re going and it presumes that you know where you’re going.

In fact, you have to come to these websites for intent. And then it ask you, when are you going? And so most the OTAs aren’t really in the business inspiration. They’re in business of converting traffic into bookings. And this is good, but we always thought this — the Holy Grail of like online travel was to inspire people about where to go.

Now the results of I’m Flexible has exceeded our expectations. It’s been used 2 billion times and for a travel product to be used 2 billion times and people only use the trial product typically a couple of times a year is pretty unusual. So what are we seeing the results? I think the primary thing we’re seeing with I’m Flexible is we’re seeing a very strong amount of engagement with I’m Flexible people see a lot more properties in a lot more markets. We’re seeing people book properties outside of a lot of the popular tourist destinations, and we’re seeing an ability to redistribute travel demand beyond the top popular hotspots like Rome, Paris, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles.

So that’s really the most important thing that I’m Flexible can do. I’m Flexible can be in the inspiration game and point demands where you already have supply. And so our measures of success are how often do people come back to the website, how many properties do they wish list, how frequently they are engaged in the product on the inspiration side and on the demand side, how well are you pointing demand to where we have available supply rather than just kind of being at the mercy of wherever they think they want to go and when they want to go when they come to Airbnb. And so I think that what you’re seeing in the Q1 results is that clearly, the product is working, because I think that I’m Flexible as a feature has helped drive a fair amount of that growth.”


Norman Mineta, Transportation Secretary on 9/11, Dies at 90

2 years ago

Norman Y. Mineta, the Transportation Secretary who closed the U.S. airspace and ordered the grounding of 4,000 planes in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, has died. He was 90 years old.

Mineta died at his home in Edgewater, Md., of a heart ailment, John Flaherty, his former chief of staff, said.

Mineta, a first-generation Japanese American, began his public career in local politics in California. In 1971, he became the first Asian American elected to represent a major American city, San Jose, his native city and the second-largest in California. In 1974, he began a 10-term congressional career, representing Silicon Valley.

During his time in Congress, Mineta was instrumental in getting the U.S. government to apologize and award reparations to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. This was personal for Mineta: When he was 10 years old, he and his family were sent from California to an internment camp in Wyoming. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered Americans of Japanese descent interned in February 1942, two months after the Japanese bombarded Pearl Harbor.

After his tenure in Congress and a subsequent stint in the private sector, Mineta served briefly as Commerce Secretary in the Clinton administration, the first Asian American to serve in that role. President George W. Bush tapped him to be Transportation Secretary, the sole Democrat in Bush’s cabinet.

Mineta acted decisively after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He and then-FAA Administrator Jane Garvey took the unprecedented step of closing the U.S. airspace, forcing the grounding of more than 4,000 aircraft, and requiring planes in the air to land immediately, at the closest airport. The airspace remained closed for more than two days, a period which has not been repeated since.

Mineta led the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and oversaw the security protocols that endure to this day. A civil rights activist, Mineta famously opposed racial profiling by the new TSA in its security checks at airports. The TSA was created by an act of Congress in November 2001 and eventually was folded into the new Homeland Security Department.

In 2001, his hometown renamed its airport the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport in recognition of his service to the city.

Norman Mineta was born on Nov. 12, 1931, in San Jose. After the war, he returned to California and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1953. He is survived by his wife Danealia, four sons, and 11 grandchildren.


Breaking News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings across the travel industry.

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Influential Hotel Trade Org AAHOA Has a New CEO

2 years ago

AAHOA, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, the largest hotel owners association in U.S., has a new CEO: Laura Lee Blake. She has been named the new president and CEO, effective May 16, 2022. Blake will succeed Ken Greene, who served in the role for a short time in 2021 and part of 2022. 

Blake previously worked for AAHOA for nearly 10 years, from 2005 to 2014.

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Business Travel

Singapore Sees Business Travel on the Rise Once Again

2 years ago

In April, Singapore reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers. Since then, corporate travel agency CWT said that Singapore has seen the highest peaks of business travel since early 2020, according to The Straits Times.

“Mr. Akshay Kapoor, head of sales for Asia-Pacific at CWT, said outbound bookings from Singapore are up fivefold compared with the beginning of this year, while inbound bookings are up by nearly threefold.”

–Straits Times

Read the Article on the Straits Times


Hotel Tech Trade Show Producer Rejects Takeover Bid by Largest U.S. Hotel Lobby

2 years ago

The trade group Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP)— which produces the world’s largest hotel technology trade fairs — rejected on Monday an unsolicited merger offer by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), the largest U.S. hotel lobby.

The hotel technology career group is best known for putting on HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference) trade fairs in several markets.

The trade group justified turning down the merger offer by saying the groups were mismatched. HFTP is a “global association with members from the entire hospitality spectrum” and wasn’t a comparable match with “a North American association with an advocacy focus whose constituents are primarily hotels.”

Sounds true. But HFTP also probably didn’t want to share revenue from its trade shows. Or AHLA didn’t offer enough money, because HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe is said to live up to his Wolfe surname in negotiations.

The hotel lobby ought to go after HSMAI Americas, an organization of sales, marketing, and revenue management professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry, instead. But it won’t be cheap, either.

Read the statement


Greece Lifts Covid Restrictions in Time for Summer Season

2 years ago

“Greece lifted COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday for foreign and domestic flights, its civil aviation authority said, ahead of the summer tourism season that officials hope will see revenues bouncing back from the pandemic slump” Reuters is reporting.

Read the Reuters story

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Merlin Entertainment CEO Nick Varney To Retire After 23 Years

2 years ago

Nick Varney, who has led Merlin Entertainment, owner of Legoland and other attractions into one of the largest players in the attractions industry, has announced his intention to retire from the holding company he created in 1999.

Merlin was formed in 1999 following the £47m Management Buyout of Vardon Entertainments led by Nick, who subsequently became CEO of the rebranded group. Since then, Nick has grown the business from 19 attractions to a global attractions company operating 140 attractions, 23 hotels and 6 holiday villages in 24 countries and across 4 continents. During this period, it grew EBITDA from £7m to £569m pre-pandemic, the company said in the press release announcing his retirement.

The company will start a 12-month notice period during which the company board will find another CEO to lead the company, from a mix of internal and external candidates. Mark Fisher, Chief Development Officer, has also decided to retire in the same time period.

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South East Asia Opens All At Once

2 years ago

South East Asian countries are in a race to reopen all at once, with news last few days from Hong Kong, Singapore, Cambodia and more on cutting restrictions for foreign travelers. The most significant of these is Hong Kong, which has been locked down into the most stringent restrictions anywhere in the world for the last two years: it will allow non-residents to enter from May, and rules for airlines that carry infected COVID-19 patients will also be eased slightly.

For Singapore, all fully vaccinated travelers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test or on arrival, and with no quarantine restrictions. Of course this being South East Asia, there is a confusing infographic to go along with it:

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