Skift Take

Top of the morning to you. Do you know that quote, “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet?” That’s the motto Hostelworld operates on.

Top of the morning to you. Do you know that quote, “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet?” 

That’s the motto Hostelworld operates on. The OTA for hostels is keen on helping people forge and foster social connections through travel. 

We heard from Hostelworld CEO Gary Morrison at the Skift Global Forum last month. But I caught up with Morrison for a longer conversation about how this philosophy aligns with business strategy. Through social gatherings, targeting marketing and creating space, the company wants to take travel back to its roots: It’s about exploration. 

“Fundamentally, it’s helping people to hang out. People expect to meet people on the go,” Morrison said. What makes hosteling unique, according to Morrison, is that the accommodation category serves a distinct need and targets customers with a low acquisition cost.

Put simply, travelers who stay at hostels are intentionally choosing that experience over hotels or Airbnbs. 

At a time when short-term rentals and hotels tout privacy as a premium, hostels deviate from that by design. Moreover, they are affordable, well situated in urban areas and inherently cater to global travelers on longer trips. 

“It’s the Netflix way of thinking about what a travel business could look like,” Morrison said at the Skift Global Forum. 

HomeToGo Joins United Nations Global Pact

German vacation rental marketplace HomeToGo has joined the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). The UNGC brings together organizations, governments, and civil society to uphold the Ten Principles related to human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

By signing up, HomeToGo reaffirms its commitment to integrate UNGC values throughout its operations and enhance sustainability initiatives. The company will also transparently report on its progress in support of UN goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the first report scheduled for 2024.

Florida County To Hire Firms to Oversee Rentals

Commissioners in Brevard County, Florida are seeking proposals from software companies to identify non-compliant vacation rentals, Florida Today reported. They aim to enforce rules and ensure tax compliance for short-term rentals, such as Airbnb and Vrbo units. 

An outside firm would be contracted for a one-year trial to assess the program’s effectiveness. The county estimates around a 1,000 illegal short-term rentals are operating, sparking concerns among homeowners and rental property owners. Local and state-level discussions are ongoing to find a balanced solution to address the issue.

Airbnb and Klarna Partner in Australia

Airbnb and Klarna have together launched a new payment option in Australia where guests can spread the cost of their reservations. This initiative is part of a phased global expansion that will introduce an alternative payment method in 20 countries across three continents by early 2024. 

Initially launched during Airbnb’s 2023 Summer Release in North America, Australian guests can now apply for this service to make four interest-free installments every two weeks over six weeks, with the first payment due upon reservation confirmation. 

Meanwhile, Expedia Also Looks Towards Australia

Expedia Group has entered a partnership with Australian company Afterpay, to provide a buy-now-pay-later solution. This collaboration is available to Australian travelers. With this option, travelers can make payments in four interest-free installments over a six to eight-week period. 

Vrbo Kicked Out A Large Number of Hosts for Cancellations

Remember when Vrbo said it would penalize hosts for canceling?  

It has recently cut ties with numerous vacation rental hosts who excessively canceled guest bookings. Tim Rosolio, VP of vacation rental partner success at Expedia, revealed that Vrbo has been eliminating hosts with high cancellation rates, primarily individual property owners. 

This move aims to provide guests with a more reliable and consistent experience by discouraging unnecessary cancellations. Additionally, Vrbo introduced penalties of up to 50% of a booking’s value for hosts who cancel frequently and raised the requirements for hosts to achieve premier status, which enhances their property’s search visibility.

Google Vacation Rentals Finally Adds Price Comparison

Google is expanding its vacation rental feature by displaying booking links and nightly rates from multiple companies per listing, simplifying price comparison for travelers. This enhancement aims to eliminate the need for navigating multiple websites. 

The new feature’s launch began this week, with a broader rollout anticipated by the end of November, followed by expansion into different markets in 2024. Google recognizes the value of offering various booking options and rates, resolving the previous confusion stemming from listings appearing multiple times due to associations with different booking sites. The company may consider introducing advertising to these listings in the future, prioritizing user experience refinement.

Google Vacation Rentals Adds Price Comparisons 4 Years After Debut

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