Skift Take

Dublin-based Hostelworld has integrated its own social network into its business to such a degree that is materially helping its financials.

Staying in hostels has always been something of a social thing given that you might end up staying with six or seven strangers in a bunk-filled room, and many properties have live entertainment and community events. But Dublin-based Hostelworld has integrated its own social network into its business to such a degree that is materially helping its financials.

During the first half of 2023, Hostelworld’s marketing costs as a percent of revenue fell 9 percentage points year-over-year to 51%. In a call with financial analysts last week, Chief Financial Officer Carolina Sherry said “our social strategy is the key linchpin” to the improved marketing efficiency. She said the social features generate positive word-of-mouth marketing.

The percentage of its bookings from solo travelers is 66%, up from 60% pre-pandemic, and that’s another metric officials tie to the company’s social strategy.

Hostelworld debuted social features in its iOS app in April 2022, updated its Android app a couple of months later, and is continuing to invest.

After downloading the app, which promises “Affordable Social Adventures,” users can find that after making a reservation, they can “see who’s staying!” and view fellow travelers’ profiles. They can then chat with one another through the app, “make plans and meet up,” it says.

Hostelworld recently launched Linkups, which are hostel-hosted events, as another facet of its social strategy.

“To date the strategy has been extraordinarily successful, generating significant word of mouth recommendations from our customers, strong endorsements from our hostel partners, and significant growth in bookings via our mobile native apps relative to other higher cost channels,” CEO Gary Morrison stated as part of Hotelworld’s interim financial report on the first half of 2023.

Hostelworld customers who aren’t feeling very social have the option to make their app profiles private.

Airbnb Blocks Host Calendars If Unregistered in New York City

Airbnb is trying to ensure that hosts who haven’t seen their registration applications approved by New York City won’t be able to accept bookings starting September 5 when the city’s enforcement deadline kicks in. As of last week, Airbnb stopped accepting reservations in the Big Apple if hosts have not provided the company with an Office of Special Enforcement registration number.

As of the end of July, New York City had only approved 141 host registrations out of 1,632 applications. The Office of Special Enforcement did not reply to a request for an update on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that “thousands of New York City Airbnb listings are vanishing from the market” ahead of the September 5 deadline as hosts anticipate the city will get aggressive in its enforcement efforts. Hosts have to be registered with the city to accept reservations, must be present at the property during the stay, and can’t have locks on bedroom doors, among other provisions.

Platforms like Airbnb would face fines if they allow unregistered hosts to take reservations starting September 5 in the city.

Vrbo Launches U.S. College Football Promotion

Vrbo, which is a sponsor of the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona on January 1 and the College Football Playoff in Houston January 8, is running a “Fan-mily in Residence” promotion as it plans to load up the perks for the selected “biggest college football fan” and their five family members and friends.

Following an an application process, the winning Fan-mily gets all-expense paid travel, including stays at premier Vrbo-listed vacation homes, as well as club seats at the 50-yard line for both games, field credentials, black car service, and game gear, among other swag. They would also receive a $1,000 “gridiron grub grant” to keep those vacation homes stocked with wings, pizza, beer, caviar, and whatever.

It’s not a totally free ride, however. The winning college football fan would have to illustrate these Vrbo and gridiron experiences on Instagram. If you are a college football fan with little following on social our advice is punt — and forget about it.

Hermosa Beach, California Signs Data Vendor for Vacation Rental Crackdown

The City of Hermosa Beach, California is signing on data vendor Granicus Host Compliance to identify unregistered vacation rentals, Easy Reader & Peninsula reported.

There were 247 vacation rentals in the city in July, according to the story, which cited AirDNA data. Stays of less than 30 days are verboten except in the commercial district, where they city has granted a mere 14 permits.

Granicus Host Compliance crawls some 60 short-term rental websites, and it would be used to identify unregistered vacation rentals in the city that are offering their services.

New Payment Solution From Beyond

San Francisco-based Beyond debuted a payment processing solution, Tally, that it said is geared toward vacation rental owners and managers. Tally, which is PCI-compliant, handles major credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay and ACH. Beyond said Tally also has fraud prevention and detection capabilities.

Adding to Beyond’s revenue management solutions, Tally features an owner/manager dashboard geared to execute daily payouts and reconciliations, as well transactions, disputes and automated collections, the company said.


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Tags: hostelworld, sstrr

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