Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Airbnb’s changes to reduce discrimination, United’s big bet on big planes, and expanding food tours.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, December 14, and we are live in Dubai for the next two days. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

United Airlines is making an enormous bet that long-haul international travel will continue to boom. The company announced on Tuesday it’s shelling out more than $29 billion for up to 200 Boeing jets that will fly intercontinental routes, reports Edward Russell, Editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Russell writes the 200 Boeing 787s United ordered will be the backbone of its long-haul fleet for decades to come, with all of the new jets due to arrive by 2032. He adds that United’s aircraft deal comes at a good time for an airline industry optimistic about a strong 2023. Helane Becker, analyst at banking firm Cowen & Company, said that United stands to benefit from having the greatest exposure among U.S. airlines to international travel’s ongoing recovery.

We turn next to a food tours company eager to tap into the growing number of travelers exploring destinations through food. Secret Food Tours is looking to expand through acquiring smaller, niche tour operators, reports Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy.

Oliver Mernick-Levene, co-founder of the UK-based Secret Food Tours, said he views buying smaller tour operators as an avenue for expanding its brand presence. It recently acquired two local food tour companies, Miami-based Little Havana Tours and Seattle Bites Food Tours. Mernick-Levene added that Secret Food Tours prides itself in being able to put destinations on the map from a culinary standpoint, citing London Bridge as an example. The area was featured on the Food Network after Secret Food Tours’ excursions there.

Mernick-Levene also said that Secret Food Tours plans to establish partnerships with Marriott and cruise line Celebrity Cruises.

Travelers perceived to be Black see their Airbnb reservation requests rejected by hosts at higher rates than any other racial group. So the company recently changed its Instant Book setting to reduce rejection rates for Black guests, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Airbnb said on Tuesday it updated its Instant Book setting options for hosts. Hosts can now allow guests to take advantage of these instant confirmations even if no hosts have previously submitted reviews of the guests and their stays. The company recommended in the past that hosts enable Instant Book for guests who had obtained positive reviews of all their stays from hosts.

Airbnb found guests perceived to be Black were on average almost 3 percentage points less successful using Instant Book than guests believed to be white. The short-term rental giant said the disparity occurs in part because many guests perceived to be Black often do not satisfy host-selected criteria to use Instant Book.

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Tags: airbnb, food tourism, skift podcast, united airlines

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