Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Cloudbeds Announces Integration with Vrbo

7 months ago

Cloudbeds, a San Diego-based software company that helps independent hotels set their set their rooms and market their inventory online, has integrated with Vrbo — the API integration will allow property owners and operators to manage all aspects of their Vrbo listings through the Cloudbeds platform. 

Vrbo presents an opportunity for Cloudbeds customers to maximize their bookings and with access to top distribution channels worldwide, enabling them to enhance their visibility, tap into new markets, and attract diverse types of travelers. 

“Our mission at Cloudbeds is to power all segments of hospitality, delivering owners and operators technology capable of competing with the big brands,” said Richard Castle, co-founder and COO of Cloudbeds. “It gives us great pride to be one of the few official software partners of Vrbo, and we’re excited to provide even more opportunities for our properties to reach new travelers.”

This announcement comes shortly after Expedia Group, which owns Vrbo, terminated its relationship with Hopper over a variety of practices that Expedia believes are anti-consumer. 

The decision to terminate the partnership was driven by specific reasons: As Hopper’s product evolved, the company said that certain features of the platform took advantage of consumer anxiety and caused confusion among customers, leading them to purchase services they didn’t actually require or comprehend fully. 

Short-Term Rentals

Evolve Lays Off 14 Percent of Its Staff

9 months ago

Vacation rental property manager Evolve is laying off 14 percent of its staff — or 164 employees.

In a memo to employees, Evolve’s chief executive officer Brian Egan wrote “We are operating in a market that has become increasingly dynamic and volatile. Specifically, marketwide supply growth has considerably outpaced demand growth, which has led to average daily rates, bookings, and revenue per property coming in below our expectations,” he said. 

“This means we will be supporting fewer customers, and will generate less revenue than we planned heading into this year. As a result, we need to reduce the size of our team to align our organization and overall expense structure to this new market context.” The story was first reported by Short Term Rentalz.

Property manager Evolve’s office, as seen in 2017. Evolve

The Denver-based company announced a $100 million capital raise last February — Durable Capital Partners led the round. Evolve manages more than 30,000 vacation rentals, and it has raised $235 million. Evolve’s ​​basic plan charges a 10 percent commission and doesn’t include housekeeping or maintenance but does include all aspects of driving rental income as an on-ramp to marketing a property on major channels like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo. Services include shooting professional photos, creating a listing, offering advice on rate-setting, and handling guest interactions.

Following the raise, in August, Evolve signed a contract with Hopper to add 24,000 homes to Hopper’s app. At the time Eric Schueller, Evolve’s senior vice president of revenue said his company seeks to get incremental bookings from Generation Z guests through the Hopper partnership, and not just shift bookings to Hopper from other distribution partners. Hopper’s guests skew younger than Evolve’s core customers, he added.

Online Travel

Hopper Attracts a $96 Million Investment From Capital One in Partnership Expansion

1 year ago

Capital One, which led a $170 million investment round in travel app Hopper in 2021, has added $96 million to the kitty, and the companies announced a long-term partnership between Hopper and Capital One Travel.

Hopper CEO and co-founder Frederic Lalonde
Hopper CEO and co-founder Frederic Lalonde in discussion with Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. Source: Skift

“Following the success of Capital One Travel, Hopper and Capital One are announcing an extension to their partnership as a way to continue creating best-in-class, intuitive solutions that make all parts of the travel journey seamless for customers,” Hopper’s announcement stated.

Hopper powers Capital One Travel, and Hopper also offers an array of fintech products, such as price freezes on flights and hotels, for an array of other partners.

Hopper claims to the the third largest online travel agency in North America, and to command 11.2 percent of third party flight bookings in the U.S., citing Marketing Information Data Tapes figures.

“The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s growth across several fronts including fueling its new social commerce initiatives,” Hopper stated.

Hopper has raised around $730 million in total funding.

A Hopper spokesperson declined to elaborate on Capital One’s equity stake in Hopper.

Online Travel

Hopper Partners With Vacation Rental Management Platform Hostaway

1 year ago

Online travel agency Hopper has entered into a partnership with short-term rental management platform Hostaway, an alliance that Hopper believes will boost its short-term rental brand Hopper Homes.

“Partnering with Hostaway allows us to bolster our high-quality inventory, and helps us deliver on our promise to provide the best booking options at the best prices,” said Susan Ho, head of Hopper Homes, which Hopper launched in January 2022.

Short-term rental property managers using Hostaway will be now able to list their properties on Hopper.

“We work with many property managers in the U.S., which is Hopper’s main market, so it benefits both companies to team up on this integration,” said Marcus Rader, the CEO and co-founder of Hostaway. “We’re excited about the possibilities this will bring to our customers.”

Hopper, which is the third largest online agency travel agency flight booker in the U.S. between behind Expedia Group and CheapOAir, is already partnering with vacation rental booking brand Vrbo.

The inside of a house
Hopper is making further inroads in the short-term rental market through its partnership with Hostaway (Courtesy: Medeu71/pxHere)

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.

Travel Booking

Citi Is Developing a Travel Platform with Booking.com

2 years ago

Financial services firm Citi is launching Citi Travel later this year. The travel booking platform will be powered by Booking.com and its Rocket Travel subsidiary.

The portal is set to replace its existing City Thank You Travel Center website, and will offer hotel, air, and car hire options.

“Leveraging the scale and range of Booking.com, the new Citi Travel provides an unmatched breadth of hotel reservation options,” the companies said in a joint statement. “With more than 1.4 million hotels available worldwide — ranging from boutiques to beloved chains — there is the right option for every budget, vacation type and preference.”

Banks are continuing to develop travel products to gain more loyalty from their customers, giving them more options to spend their points. Capital One has recently invested in Hopper as well as private jet startup Aero.

Earlier this year, JP Morgan bought luxury travel agency Frosch, while in Nov. 2021, U.S. Bancorp acquired Will Smith-Backed TravelBank for $200 million.

Airlines

Jet Startup Aero Raises $65 Million to Grow Its Network

2 years ago

Semi-private jet company Aero has raised $65 million in funding to expand its network, and to service demand on existing routes.

Currently it operates flights to Aspen, Los Cabos and Sun Valley from private terminals in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the U.S, as well as Ibiza, Mykonos, and Nice from London’s Farnborough Airport

The Series B round was co-led by Albacore Capital Group and returning investors Expa and Keyframe Capital, as well as new investment from Capital One Ventures (which last year invested in popular booking app Hopper.)

Unlike other jet services, Aero aims to stand out by focusing on connecting millennials with destinations that offer Instagram-worthy experiences. It owns and operates its aircraft, and sells individual seats on flights to leisure destinations around the world.

Aero CEO Uma Subramanian formerly worked on Airbus’ helicopter service Voom.Flights, which closed down in 2020.

The startup previously raised $20 million in Series A funding in March last year, and before that $16 million in 2019.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article described Aero as a private jet company, and said it did not own or operate its own aircraft, and provides ticket resale for flights on registered air carriers on selected routes

Airlines

Lonely Planet on Summer Travel: Cope, Don’t Cancel

2 years ago

You’ve seen and heard the horror stories of travel plans gone awry in May and June, and now Lonely Planet is stepping up with advice for travelers that skittish travel businesses would welcome: “DO NOT let the threat of a cancellation keep you home. It’s been a long pandemic. It’s time to get out there again.”

Madrid Airport
File photo of Madrid Airport. Unsplash.

In an email, Lonely Planet said that is the counsel from its editor-at-large, Sebastian Modak.

Among Modak’s tips:

  • Research a specific flight’s past performance to see if it is prone toward delays and cancellations.
  • Be on the lookout for news about endless security lanes and baggage gone missing.
  • Think about doing domestic trips instead of traveling abroad.
  • Try not to avoid holiday or even weekend travel.
  • Consider alternative airports that may not be as popular.
  • In the U.S., consider Amtrak, which has increased its schedules, instead of flying.

Meanwhile, with all of the angst out there because of disrupted travel plans, online travel company Hopper reported that purchases of its flight protection products, which provide certain safeguards to thwart delays, cancelled flights or missed connections, jumped 28 percent over the last month.

On the other hand, in China, where Covid lockdowns have been intense, staycations in local hotels have become a trend. That might not be a bad idea for the less-adventurous among us.

Airlines

Hopper Forecasts 12.9 Million U.S. Flyers Over July Fourth Holiday

2 years ago

The July Fourth holiday in the U.S. kicks off with this week with vacationers expected to begin hitting the road en mass on Thursday. That’s when an estimated up to 2.7 million daily travelers are expected to take to the sky with a robust 12.9 million flyers over the entire long weekend, according to a new forecast from Hopper.

To put the numbers in perspective, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) busiest day to date since the beginning of the pandemic was June 26 when agent’s screened 2.46 million people. Hopper’s estimate sees almost another 300,000 flyers traveling through airports across the country on Thursday and Friday, and an average of 2.6 million daily over the long weekend — or the five days from June 30 to July 4 — even as airlines and airports are already struggling with the surge of summer travelers.

(Hopper)

“With flight delay and cancelation rates well above 2019 averages, travelers should prepare for potential disruptions traveling over the long weekend,” Hopper said. However, with many airlines proactively cancelling flights ahead of time, the number of delays has decreased in recent days.

The busiest airports are of no surprise: Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Denver — mega-hubs for Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines, respectively — top Hopper’s list. Los Angeles is also forecast among the busiest.

Airlines

U.S. Airfares Drop For First Time in 2022

2 years ago

The steady runup in ticket prices for flights in the U.S. this year appears to have come to an end. New data from Hopper found that average domestic fares have fallen by $20 to $390 since mid-May.

“Demand for domestic travel, which has been surging since late January also slowed in May, plateauing in line with airfare prices,” Hopper wrote Wednesday. However, the travel booking site noted that this is common as new bookings in mid-June begin to shift to fall trips that are after the summer travel peak ebbs in August.

(Hopper)

In addition, despite the $20 drop — the first since the beginning of the year — U.S. domestic airfares remain roughly 18 percent higher than at the same time in 2019. International airfares are up 22 percent year-over-three-years.

(Hopper)

Staffing, fleet, and other issues limit how much more U.S. airlines can fly. Most carriers, including the Big 4 — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines — have either cut flights to mitigate disruptions, or loaded schedules with fewer flights than they had planned at the beginning of the year. The situation is expected to ease in the fall and winter when there is less travel demand, and training backlogs shrink.