Good morning from Skift. It's Friday, May 13, in New York City. Here's what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
Listen to the day’s top travel stories in under four minutes every weekday.
Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast discusses Airbnb’s efforts on multiple fronts to increase consumer confidence, what Marriott perceives as its secret advantage in the vacation rental market, and the latest hotspots for digital nomads.
Airbnb announced this week that it was expanding the number of search categories on its website and app — a move the company said it made to increase consumer confidence in the platform, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s Global Head of Hosting, told Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali at Skift’s Future of Lodging Forum in New York on Thursday that changed consumer behavior and shifts in travel bookings drove the online travel agency to create 56 search categories on its platform. Many consumers, she said, are both new to Airbnb and short-term rental properties, so the company believes the expanded categorization will help them find what they’re looking for and eliminate any uncertainty about booking places to stay.
Next, Marriott’s Homes & Villas unit is taking a different approach from its vacation home rental rivals regarding increasing its customer base. It’s using its loyalty program as a vehicle to drive growth, reports Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Jennifer Hsieh, the unit’s vice president, said in a discussion with Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill at the Forum on Thursday that, unlike its rivals, Homes & Villas views its loyalty program — the Marriott Bonvoy — as a source of strength. The Bonvoy program offers Homes & Villas a vast amount of information on each customer’s preferences, enabling the unit to tailor the types of rentals it believes will appeal to an individual guest. Hsieh cited the example of Homes & Villas offering a listing of ski resorts for prospective guests who like skiing.
Marriott Bonvoy members are responsible for roughly a third of the unit’s bookings. But Hsieh acknowledged that Homes & Villas needs to do a better job of providing customers a more seamless online experience, which the company believes an app it’s developing will help it accomplish.
Finally, common travel patterns are emerging among the growing digital nomad segment, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons in this week’s Future of Work briefing.
Sam Khazary, the senior vice president of global corporate development at Selina, said at the Forum this week that his company has discovered that Central and South America have emerged as hotspots for digital nomads. Khazary added that digital nomads from some nations are inclined to travel to certain destinations, citing Panama’s popularity with remote workers from Israel as an example. Selina is well positioned to take advantage of the interest exhibited by digital nomads in traveling to Central and South America, where two-thirds of the company’s portfolio is located.