The proptech startup says its latest Miami opening highlights demand for shorter stay accommodation from those traveling for political reasons, not just contract workers and digital nomads.
Future of Work
As organizations start to embrace distributed work and virtual meetings, the corporate travel and meetings sectors are preparing for change. Read Skift’s ongoing coverage of this shift in business travel behavior through the lens of both brands and consumers.
Blueground is seeing its apartments being rented out as safe havens from political upheavals.
The property technology company, which offers turnkey short and long-term apartment rentals, recently expanded into Miami, shortly after opening in Austin.
And it’s increasingly becoming a “haven” for people from countries such as Brazil and Venezuela wanting to leave the political turmoil behind them. And short-term rentals are proving attractive, according to Blueground Miami’s new general manager, Agnes Pierre-Louis.
“It’s a growing market,” she said.
She added that Miami has been a haven for Latin American countries, whether that’s for companies, or families wanting more stable ground.
“A lot of them go through political cycles. You have families that come for temporary periods of time, or extended periods of time, depending on what the country is going through,” she added. “For example in the last couple of years you’ve had a huge influx from Venezuela. It’s the same for Caribbean countries, like Haiti, from where I’m from. There’s a huge migration.”
Blueground is leveraging its “try before you buy” marketing, and is offering apartments in neighborhoods like downtown Miami, Doral, Wynwood and Coral Gables It aims to attract people who want to see if a new country or city will work out for them, before investing in a house and a car, and time looking at schools.
“These are people who don’t necessarily want to permanently leave their country, they may come for six months, or eight months, or a year, but they have the intention of going back,” Pierre-Louis added. “Or they end up making the decision to stay. The flexible housing space is greatly positioned to give them that temporary stop while they make a decision.”
Gateway to Business
On the other side of the equation Miami is a prime location due to its proximity to Latin America, which is fast emerging as the most dynamic region in the global airline industry. Blueground is even acquiring Brazil’s Tabas, another proptech startup, marking its first acquisition. It led Tabas’s $14 million funding round earlier this year.
“We’ve had our sights set on Latin America for quite some time, as we see huge market potential for furnished and flexible rentals,” said Alex Chatzieleftheriou, Blueground’s CEO and co-founder.
Blueground continues to work with companies who relocate staff for projects, or are opening up offices. And that’s a key strategy in a city like Miami. “Any company that wants to do business with Latin America, or infiltrate that market, will generally set up a satellite office here,” Pierre-Louis said.
Co-working provider Industrious is also moving in, and will open office spaces at 19505 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami this fall.
But Blueground’s relationship with digital nomads may be waning, as it is now winding down its Blueground Pass. This subscription model, developed during the pandemic, gave customers the freedom to move from location to location for a monthly fee.
However, the company told Skift: “It’s being phased out based on guest feedback, and Blueground is currently working on another initiative to launch next year.”
Chatzieleftheriou said that while the pandemic gave rise to digital nomads, the category and their needs continue to change now that the company was nearly three years into remote and hybrid work.
Blueground Pass was now being “repositioned” into an even stronger product.
“We created Blueground Pass in 2021 after one of our guests messaged me on LinkedIn suggesting we have a product that allows our guests to easily move from city to city under one agreement,” Chatzieleftheriou said. “While our guests love the fact that they can seamlessly and flexibly move from city to city with Blueground Pass, we noticed that more guests are wanting to actually live with Blueground for longer and this next product will better support this. We’ll be introducing a new concept that makes living the Blueground lifestyle easier, more affordable and provides added benefits and even more flexibility. We’ll be sharing with you as soon as it’s ready.”
UPDATE: This article was updated to include comments from Alex Chatzieleftheriou, Blueground’s CEO and co-founder, on the reasons behind phasing out Blueground Pass.
Do corporate travel agencies need to up their marketing game? Definitely, says tech giant company Travelport.
It’s just commissioned a survey that found 99 percent of business travelers don’t know the name of their travel management company. That compares to 46 percent of travelers on the leisure booking side.
Looking into the potential causes, Travelport found most business travelers (69 percent) said the options provided were “undesirable” while almost half (46 percent) wanted more choice. Some 38 percent said they lacked confidence in their agency, and 35 percent wanted business trip options that supported their wellbeing.
On the leisure side, booking isn’t such a forgetful experience. With online travel agencies, just 46 percent of leisure travelers can’t remember which site they used to book their last trip.
But for those who did, 78 percent said it was an “above average” or “excellent” booking experience.
Traveport’s study is niche, to be fair, covering just three regions: the U.S., Japan and Saudi Arabia. It was carried out in September 2022 among 3,000 travelers, and conducted by Toluna Research.
Outside the U.S. there’s a little more loyalty. In Saudi Arabia, 63 percent of travelers, said they had a preferred online travel retailer, while it was 70 percent for Japan. In the U.S, 45 percent travelers have a favorite agency.
Travelport says online travel agencies may be less distinguishable because they’re focusing on the wrong things — perhaps too much price, and not enough on the extras, or allowing everything to be booked in one go.
“Agencies need more choice, clear comparison shopping, and easy ways to manage experiences like exchanges,” said Jen Catto, Travelport’s chief marketing officer. “While price is important, these value-add factors create an ‘excellent’ modern retailing experience that stands out and earns loyalty.”
10-Second Corporate Travel Catch-Up
Who and what Skift has covered over the past two weeks: Amadeus, American Airlines, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Disney, Flight Centre Travel Group, Four Seasons, Hilton, Informa, neuro-inclusive meetings, Sabre, Soho House, Uber, United Airlines.
Amex GBT Teams Up With Meeting Platform Glisser
American Express Global Business Travel has entered into a new partnership with virtual and hybrid meetings platform Glisser. The bilateral agreement means Glisser will provide strategic and technical support to Amex GBT’s clients as they look to extend the reach of their physical events. Amex GBT will also offer travel and expense services to Glisser’s cleints, which include Pfizer, ASOS, Becker and the UK’s NHS. Glisser added virtual event technology in March 2020 in response to the pandemic,
Amex GBT joined forces with another meetings platform, Bizzabo, in November last year.
BCD Travel Hires New Sustainability Expert
Travel management company BCD Travel has named Olivia Ruggles-Brise as its new vice-president, sustainability. She has more than 20 years of experience in international travel, tourism, hospitality and events, including a decade at the World Travel & Tourism Council. Kathy Jackson was previously BCD Travel’s vice president and executive chair, sustainability, but announced her retirement earlier this year.
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