Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Airbnb’s Experiences pause, Delta Air Lines’ optimism, and funding roadblocks for African travel entrepreneurs.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, April 14. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Airbnb confirmed on Thursday that it’s pausing offering new experiences, or tours and activities, without saying when it plans to resume them, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy.
An Airbnb spokesperson said it was putting a halt to new experiences offerings to focus on other aspects of its operations. Brophy reports the short-term rental giant had resumed its Experiences last year after pausing them at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky had said the company would be developing experiences for the growing number of people working from home, and for others. Airbnb valued the total addressable market at roughly $1.4 trillion in its initial public offering paperwork published in November 2020.
Next, Delta Air Lines acknowledged industry-wide anxiety about decreasing travel demand and a possibly weak summer. However, the company doesn’t share those worries, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift publication.
Russell writes Wall Street analysts have raised concerns about domestic travel demand in recent weeks, citing a slowdown in new bookings. But Delta President Glen Hauenstein said during its first-quarter earnings call on Thursday that data cited by analysts reflects a change in booking booking patterns and not a softening in demand. Russell notes more travelers are booking trips earlier than usual with the confidence they can change their flights later if necessary.
Delta reported a nearly $550 million operating profit for the first quarter. The company also generated nearly $13 billion worth of revenue during the period.
Finally, travel entrepreneurs often experience challenges in securing funding for their startups. But those hurdles are compounded for Black startup founders seeking capital to help diversify Africa’s tourism offerings, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Brophy.
Brophy cites Rwandan-Canadian Charles Shima, founder of Africa-centric online travel marketplace ZaNiheza, as one executive fighting to raise funds. Despite securing a few grants, Shima acknowledged securing funding for his travel startup concept remains his biggest challenge. He said that ZaNiheza aims to create travel experiences that encourage travelers to visit Africa’s cities instead of just exploring the continent’s popular safari destinations.
Although Brophy notes African startups secured a continental record $5 billion of funding in 2022, most of those investments went into fintech, energy and agriculture startups. One South Africa-based tech executive said the continent’s travel sector lacks unicorns, adding that officials across Africa need to get the fundamentals right pertaining to travel and tourism.
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Photo credit: A promotional image for an Airbnb experience. Airbnb