Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Expedia’s Vrbo plans, expanding Chicago tourism, and surfing in Morocco.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, March 1. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Expedia Group’s vacation rental brand Vrbo is competing against a juggernaut in Airbnb. So Expedia Group is looking to leverage its strengths to give Vrbo a major boost, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal in this week’s Online Travel Briefing.

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern outlined his company’s plans to grow Vrbo this year at a recent investor conference. He said Expedia Group would make tech improvements to help Vrbo to take advantage of one the largest business-to-business segments in travel. Kern added that Vrbo would benefit from Expedia Group’s new cross-brand loyalty program that enables guests of its major brands to earn rewards.

We turn next to Chicago’s plan to develop a more inclusive tourism industry. The city’s tourism agency Choose Chicago is using a $5.5 million grant to drive visitation to its overlooked South Side neighborhoods, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.

Choose Chicago CEO Lynn Osmond said it aims to use the money to increase pride in neighborhoods that Habtemariam writes have been neglected by tourists. Some of the grant funding will go toward digital advertising and photography services for businesses to showcase local attractions. Osmond said the grant money will be spread equally among the neighborhoods Choose Chicago works with, adding the agency plans to expand coverage to more areas of the city. Some of Choose Chicago’s work will entail cleaning up streets and train stations.

Osmond acknowledged though that not all of the South Side’s neighborhoods are ready for tourists, citing safety issues as a concern in some parts of the city.

We end today with Morocco’s efforts to showcase an unlikely tourist attraction — surfing. The North African nation is leveraging its status as an emerging surf mecca to attract visitors, reports Contributor Harriet Akinyi.

Akinyi writes that tourism to Morocco is poised to get a boost from low-cost carriers Easyjet and Ryanair serving popular surfing destinations in the country this summer. In addition, hotel giant Hilton recently opened a property in Taghazout, a city one company executive described as the capital of surfing in Morocco. Taghazout, considered one of the world’s most popular surfing destinations, hosted a major competition this February.

However, Akinyi notes that some Moroccan surf camps believe they aren’t getting enough support from the country’s Ministry of Tourism. The co-founder of one surf camp said the government provides more aid to five-star hotels than businesses like his.

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Tags: chicago, expedia, morocco, skift podcast, vrbo

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