Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Airbnb's first full year of profits, Marriott's stellar quarter, and generative AI's promise for travel.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, February 15. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Airbnb has an answer for all those skeptics who claimed for years that it was a typical Silicon Valley unicorn with a penchant for growth at the expense of black ink — the short-term rental giant in 2022 recorded its first profitable year, writes Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Airbnb said Tuesday that it had its most profitable fourth quarter ever at $319 million. That was part of the company’s first profitable full year as it generated $1.9 billion of net income. That compared to a net loss of $352 million for full-year 2021.

The company attributed its fourth quarter profit mark to revenue growth and cost discipline. Fourth quarter revenue grew 24 percent year over year to $1.9 billion. Full-year 2022 revenue climbed 40 percent to $8.4 billion.

Next, travel companies should be considering their role in a world powered by generative AI and how to get there, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes. Generative artificial intelligence, a technology that includes the creation of images, audio and video to facilitate bookings, has received lots of attention in the past weeks.

Dawes cites Hopper as one online travel agency eager to capitalize on the opportunities generative AI could provide them. Hopper Chief Data Scientist Patrick Surry said it could impact how the company interacts with consumers, including helping improve responses to frequent customer service requests. Surry added that Hopper could envision using generative AI to create personalized itineraries for travelers. Skift examined the rise of generative AI in travel marketing in a 2023 Megatrend.

Dawes writes that companies using generative AI believe it will help them better utilize data they’ve collected throughout the years. But Expedia Group Chief Technology Officer Rathi Murthy acknowledged that travel brands looking to use generative AI need to make significant tech upgrades, noting the industry typically runs on old technology.

Finally, Marriott rode a surge in luxury and group bookings to a company record for fourth-quarter daily room rates, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.

O’Neill writes Marriott saw its average daily rates worldwide in the fourth quarter rise 13 percent from 2019 levels. CEO Anthony Capauno described his company’s 2022 as terrific during its fourth quarter earnings call on Tuesday. He added he’s bullish on a strong 2023, citing a major boost Marriott expects from China recently easing travel restrictions.

Marriott generated $673 million in net income during the fourth quarter. The company also saw its worldwide revenue per available room, an important industry metric, jump 7 percent in December 2022 from pre-Covid levels.

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Tags: airbnb, generative ai, marriott, skift podcast

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