Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Nearly Half of Destinations Offer Digital Nomad Visas: Analysis

3 months ago

Almost half of all global destinations now offer a digital nomad visa, according to a new analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization.

Digital nomad visas allow individuals to live and work in a foreign country while maintaining employment in their home country.

Here are some of the organization’s key findings:

  • 39% exempt digital nomads from tax payments.
  • 80% process applications within one-month period.
  • 76% have online applications for their digital nomad visa programs.
  • Only 6 % have no visa fees for their applications.

Short-Term Rentals

Zumper Launches Short-Term Rental Subscription Service

12 months ago

There is now another subscription service for short-term rentals.

San Francisco-based privately-owned rental platform Zumper has launched Flexpass — its subscription service targeting remote workers and digital nomads. Priced at $300 per year, the service will allow access to Zumper’s listings of fully furnished short-term rentals. 

Sample of an apartment listing in Boston. Source: Zumper

Zumper’s value proposition to mobile renters is convenience. The service reportedly has over half a million listings in over 100 cities and metropolises, mostly in North America, Europe and Asia. The service apartments come fully furnished and equipped and can be rented for a minimum of 30 nights without leases, security deposits, application or cleaning fees. It’s unclear what exclusive benefits subscribers of Flexpass can avail of that’s not already offered on Zumper. 

But all these conveniences call for caution: Zumper has gotten considerable flak for not vetting properties and guarding users against scams. Just this week, a homeowner in Jacksonville, Florida was shocked to find her home listed on sites including Zumper. For its part the company warns users of potential scammers — nevetherless, The service seems to have unhappy customers flagging the need for stringent vetting processes

Founded in 2012, Zumper claims it wants to make renting a home as easy as booking a hotel. The company has raised a total of $180 million in funding with the latest Series D round of $30 million led by Kleiner Perkins. Blackstone Group, Greylock,Greycroft, Axel Springer, Breyer Capital and Andreessen Horowitz have also invested in Zumper. The company acquired Padmapper and NowRenting in 2016 and 2019 respectively. 

Business Travel

Airbnb to Help Mexico City Lure Digital Nomads With Marketing Site

1 year ago

Mexico City’s mayor has signed a deal with Airbnb to help encourage more digital nomads — people working online remotely — to work in the capital city with the help of a new informational website.

Airbnb said on Wednesday it had created a site to “showcase unique cultural and creative destinations and experiences” in Mexico’s capital city. The so-called “remote working hub” shows examples of extended-stay rentals, entry requirements, and visa policies. It also highlights experiences led and sold by locals that remote workers could take part in to understand the city better.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum’s and Airbnb’s promotional effort is also supported by UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency.

“Mexican entrepreneurs will participate in UNESCO-led training to develop authentic cultural experiences that represent Mexico City’s unique, cultural and creative traditions across many diverse neighborhoods,” according to an Airbnb statement.

Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said in a press conference that the impact on local renters should be minimal, Reuters reported.

“Most digital nomads choose to stay in expensive neighborhoods, where the rent is already higher than other areas of the capital, such as Condesa, Roma, and Polanco,” Sheinbaum said, according to Reuters.

For more on this topic, see Skift’s Future of Work Briefing.

Travel Booking

Hostelworld Projects Return to Profit After New Social Networking Feature Slashes Ad Spending

1 year ago

Online travel agent Hostelworld is predicting a return to profit by the end of this year, thanks in part to its app’s new social networking feature, which it launched in April

The company struggled through the pandemic, which shut down large parts of core market Asia, as backpackers avoided hostel dormitories. In 2021 it reported a loss of $36.7 million in 2021. 

But in a trading update on Oct. 12, it said it was well positioned for “profitable growth” after a new social strategy produced more sales, and lowered marketing costs.

“Since launching our innovative and differentiated social network strategy earlier this year, we have seen strong growth week over week in the number of customers signing up to our app based social platform when they make a booking with us,” the company said.

In particular its “Solo System” helps solo travelers meet other guests. As of the end of September, almost 50 percent of all its customers had signed up to the platform, driving a significant increase in the volume of bookings.

Bookings in September reached 83 percent of 2019 levels, and were also boosted by the continuing recovery of Asia and Oceania regions, which were now at 70 percent of 2019 levels, up from 43 percent in June, Hostelworld said.

Net revenue in September reached 104 percent of 2019 levels.

“Social strategy is delivering margin growth well ahead of expectations, with marketing as a percentage of net revenue expected to improve from 70 percent in the first half to approximately 55 percent in the second half,” it added.

It now expects to end the year “modestly EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) positive and with a stronger cash position than originally expected.”

“I am very pleased with the positive trends we are seeing from our innovative ‘Social’ strategy which is driving more customers to use our apps, and reduced marketing as a percentage of net revenue,” said group CEO Gary Morrison.

“Socializing” a travel booking app has also worked for Hopper. Speaking at Skift Global Forum in September, CEO Frederic Lalonde said the company had slashed its marketing spend, after becoming TikTok’s biggest spender on advertising in 2021 in the U.S.

“Today, our paid spend is almost at zero. We are giving the same money we gave to Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok to our customers in the form of tree watering games,” he said.

Short-Term Rentals

Pets Are Now Living on Airbnb

1 year ago

Toss out all the cliches about the woes of “a dog’s life” because many dogs — and cats and other domesticated animals — are now living on Airbnb.

That’s because during the first six months of 2022, around 25 percent of the nights booked that included a pet were for stays lasting 28 days or longer, Airbnb stated Tuesday.

Many of the pets’ human owners, whether they are working, visiting or living in an Airbnb since Covid-19 upended previous job and other rituals of life, were likewise attaching themselves to long-term stays.

Cats in a Poynings, UK Airbnb
Cats in a Poynings, UK Airbnb in 2018. Source: Kent Wang/Flickr

“Guests continue to stay longer in Airbnb,” CEO Brian Chesky told financial analysts in August. “They’re not just traveling Airbnb, they’re now living on Airbnb. We saw long-term stays of 28 days or more remain our fastest-growing category [during the second quarter] by trip nights compared to 2019. The long-term stays has increased nearly 25 percent from a year ago. And actually, long-term stays have increased almost 90 percent since Q2 2019.”

In addition, Airbnb said today more than 3 million pets stayed in Airbnb’s since November — whether overnights, weekends getaways or longer stays.

Airbnb hosts can decide whether they want to allow visits including pets, and they can set fees for these add-ons.

These statistics Airbnb touted about pet travel presumably are increases from prior periods, although an Airbnb spokesperson said she didn’t have additional data to provide.

Airbnb tied the pet travel to its implementation of host insurance coverage for pet damages in 2021.

Although many pets are now living on Airbnb coming out of the pandemic, they are probably not living like the locals very much. Nor is it clear they want to.

Hotels

Selina’s Delayed Stock Market Debut Now Scheduled for Oct. 21

1 year ago

More than nine months after revealing its ambitions to list on the New York Stock Exchange, at a $1.2 billion valuation, self-styled lifestyle and experiential hotel company Selina has set a date to go public, by merging with BOA Acquisition Corp — a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

The pair announced Monday that the registration statement filed in December last year was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Sept. 30. It originally planned to go public in the first half.

Now, if the merger partner’s shareholders approve the deal at a special meeting Oct. 21, and other conditions are satisfied, Selina’s common stock would start trading under the symbol “SLNA” following the closing.

Selina expects to raise $54 million in PIPE (private investment in public equity) proceeds, up to $231 million in cash from BOA’s trust account and $118 million from subscriptions to the $147.5 million principal amount of 6% senior unsecured convertible notes due 2026.

The money raised will be used to fund operations and continue its plans to achieve profitability.

Selina’s been fairly active in the past few months, with new partnerships including freelancer platform Fiverr and a party thrown for potential investors just weeks ago.

In the first half of the year it has opened 3,368 bed spaces within 13 properties in Greece, Australia, Portugal, Panama, the U.S, Israel and new location Morocco.

It also signed 7,374 bed spaces within 17 new properties and expansions across Australia, the U.S., Greece, Mexico, Portugal, Panama and Israel. This brings the total count at the end of the first half to 163 open and secured locations in 25 countries.

“We continue the positive momentum to a record year ahead; we keep being true to our mission by connecting our brand to local guests, remote workers, and digital nomads. In the first half of this year, we increased our total revenue by 142 percent and occupancy by 60 percent compared to the same period in 2021,” said Rafael Museri, co-founder and CEO of Selina, which mainly targets millennial and Gen Z travelers.

Selina was founded in 2014.

Tourism

Thailand Ups Visa Game by Granting Longer Stays to Tourists and Digital Nomads

2 years ago

Keen to offer a boost to the country’s tourism sector, Thailand will allow longer stays for foreign tourists from October 1 to March 31. The Southeast Asian destination has also proposed a 10-year golden visa program mainly targeted at wealthy digital nomads.

Foreign arrivals from 18 countries entering Thailand under the visa-on-arrival scheme, including India, will be allowed to extend their stay from 15 days to 30 days, while those from 50 countries, including Canada, U.S. and UK, who are currently eligible for a 30-day visa on arrival will be able to get a 45-day visa stamp.

From September onwards, Thailand will also be extending a 10-year golden visa option to four categories of travelers with an annual income of $80,000 and at least $1 million in assets. The visa also comes with a work permit and travelers would not need a Thai sponsor to live long-term in the country. 

The processing fee for the 10-year visa with multiple entries is around $1382.

The Thai government expects the 10-year residence visa to generate around $27 billion worth of revenue.

The visa extension is crucial as Thailand prepares to transition to a post-pandemic era with the return to normalcy. The visa programs are also timed perfectly with the Thai government planning to declare Covid-19 endemic in October.

Thailand plans to welcome around 10 million tourists this year and has been working hard to lure tourists back to the country. In its latest effort, Thailand had been looking to legalize casinos.

Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration will also meet next month to consider lifting the state of emergency, put in place to control the spread of the disease since March 2020.

Hotels

Selina Pushes Back Its SPAC Deal

2 years ago

Hospitality brand Selina has said it now aims to go public in the third quarter of 2022. Originally its merger with BOA Acquisition Corp — a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) — was due to close in the first half of the year.

The listing update comes as the brand, which targets millennial and Gen Z travelers, posted revenue of $39.9 million for the first quarter of this year, which was up 150.8 percent increase on last year’s quarter.

It also signed or opened 11 properties in the first quarter: five new locations in Israel, Australia and Brazil and six in Morocco, Portugal, the UK and Israel. Currently it has 155 open and secured properties.

Selina wants to grab the attention of investors who want to tap into the growing number of upwardly mobile millennial workers. After its SPAC, which could value the firm at $1.2 billion, the combined company will operate as Selina Hospitality Plc and trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “SLNA.”

Business Travel

Best Cities For Digital Nomads

2 years ago

Neat new research from Savills, those global property folks, on the best places for long term remote workers — also called digital nomads by the cooler peeps — to live. And work, of course. The “Savills Executive Nomad Index” ranks 15 destinations, all of these cities below have either have a digital nomad visa program, or equivalent, or in the case of the US and European countries, are already part of a large economic bloc that allows free movement of people for living or work. They offer favorable climates year-round, a high quality of life and have established prime residential markets, according to this index.

Lisbon tops the ranking thanks to the high quality of life that Portugal offers.

More here.