Good morning from Skift. It's Thursday, May 12, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast reviews discussions between hotel brands, developers, and online innovators at this week’s Future of Lodging Forum, as well as a big change in search and discovery at Airbnb.
Flexibility – among both guests and business models – was among the themes discussed on Wednesday at Skift’s first-ever Future of Lodging Forum, along with proprietary technology to support differentiated business models.
Alex Chatzieleftheriou, CEO and co-founder of Blueground, a turnkey, long-term apartment rental provider, and Sam Khazary, Selina’s senior vice president of global corporate development, said both of their brands prioritize investing in technology to grow the business. Selina leases its properties, which allows the brand to allocate its capital strategically – especially in building its own property management system, said Khazary.
At Blueground, Chatzieleftheriou plans to double a team of 60 developers who’ve built a booking engine, a customer-facing mobile app with functionality to extend a stay or ask for cleaning and maintenance, and a proprietary dynamic pricing system, writes contributor Carley Thornell.
The conclusion of the session with the two executives: Adaptability and technology are key in delivering the innovative experiences today’s travelers are seeking.
Next, one trend that has accelerated during the pandemic is the blending of business and leisure travel. But MCR Hotels CEO Tyler Morse and Kayak CEO Steve Hafner disagreed at Wednesday’s Skift Future of Lodging in New York about whether the changes in traveler behavior will last in the hotel industry, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
Morse said in a discussion with Skift CEO and founder Rafat Ali that he expects the current divide of 90 percent leisure and 10 percent corporate travel in the industry to return to traditional levels — 70 percent corporate and 30 percent leisure. However, Hafner responded that while that customary pre-Covid mix may return to the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, which MCR recently acquired, consumers will increasingly book different sorts of accommodation.
Hafner added that while corporate travel in the future won’t resemble the sector prior to the pandemic, he sees spending levels returning to pre-Covid figures and changes in the travel landscape like shorter booking windows and longer stays being more durable.
We end today with a major move by Airbnb. The company is providing consumers more search options for accommodation with its new feature Airbnb Categories, writes Skift founder and CEO Ali.
Airbnb now has 56 search categories on its platform, with potential guests able to search for everything from bed and breakfasts to camping, national parks, and countryside properties. The new search options debuted Wednesday in the United States and will launch globally later this week. Property categories had mostly been divided into a limited number of generic ones until now, including houses, apartments and guesthouses.
The company is also expanding AirCover Insurance for Hosts to protect guests against instances when hosts cancel stays within 30 days of check-in or the property doesn’t turn out as advertised. Guests will have three days to report such problems instead of the current 24-hour period.