Skift Travel News Blog

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

Travel Booking

Pandemic Didn’t Change How Marketers Target Pre-Trip Planning: Tripadvisor Survey

6 days ago

Travelers make multiple purchases in preparation for their trip, a consideration Tripadvisor believes should be noticed by marketers. The company honed in on the purchasing intent of its audience and found that despite rising prices, plans to travel is on par with 2019 levels.

Tripadvisor’s latest research report, with some 5,000 respondents across six countries, indicates purchasing behavior of travelers and its influence across industries is being overlooked.

It’s one thing that the pandemic did not disrupt in travel.

The intent when planning a trip is broader than flights, accommodations, and activities, according Tripadvisor.

“Part of the fun for travelers is the planning (and spending!) before a trip. Consumers find travel is a great excuse to buy new clothes, special toys, or just the right gear.”

Of those surveyed, the most bought item in preparation for a trip is clothes (89 percent), followed by luggage (72 percent), and electronics (62 percent). Tripadvisor stated these are “not one-off purchases, with respondents (luggage being an exception) buying these items at least 2-3 times in the past three years before traveling.”

And while three-quarters of those surveyed do plan to reduce discretionary spending, cuts to travel plans are a no-go “with saving for future vacations the top priority.”

Online Travel

India’s EaseMyTrip Acquires Majority Stake in Hotel Booking Marketplace CheQin

2 weeks ago

Indian online travel agency EaseMyTrip announced this week that it has acquired a 55 percent stake in hotel booking marketplace cheQin, owned by Gleego Innovations, for around $370,000.

The online travel agency said the acquisition would help strengthen its hotel channel.

“With this, EaseMyTrip is in a great position to give its customers a wide range of innovative hotel booking options at the most competitive prices,” the company said.

In a stock exchange filing, EaseMyTrip called cheQin a marketplace which connects travellers and hoteliers in real time and empowers hoteliers to have an access to live booking requests and manage bookings.

Speaking to Skift earlier, Prashant Pitti, the co-founder of EaseMyTrip, had said that the company is now looking to grow its non-air business by acquiring companies that are profitable, tech driven, asset-light and disruptive.

EaseMyTrip will diversify its hotel booking experience through technology support, said Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-Founder of EaseMyTrip. “cheQin provides unparalleled options in all segments and has the potential to scale and strengthen cross-selling.”

In December, the company had acquired a 75 percent stake in Nutana Aviation Capital for around $185,000.

Nutana Aviation Capital leases charter aircraft and provides charter services both within India and outside .

While the company has not yet shared its earnings for the October-December quarter, in the July-September quarter, EaseMyTrip posted gross booking revenue of $243 million, which the company said was its highest-ever in any quarter.

The company posted a profit before tax of $5 million.

This week, EaseMyTrip also announced the launch of its franchise business through which it aims to provide a retail store experience to its customers.

With EaseMyTrip Franchise, the company is tapping a new set of offline customers to expand its reach.

The business model will allow customers to have an in-store retail experience, the company said in a statement.

Travel Technology

Expedia Group Announces First Cohort for Startup Accelerator Focused on Underserved Travelers

2 weeks ago

Expedia Group has announced the first group of tech companies taking part in its new Open World Accelerator program.

The 12 startups were chosen from hundreds of applicants worldwide focused on building tech products meant to improve accessibility for underserved travelers. Each startup or small business must have been founded in the last 10 years and have a minimum viable product. 

The startup participants get technology and business development support, mentorship from Expedia Group personnel and outside experts, a non-equity grant, and access to the Expedia Group platform and products. 

The accelerator was announced in September. 

“Open World Accelerator is specifically designed to drive innovation in the industry, remove barriers to travel, and enable startups and SMBs to build capabilities on Expedia’s Open World™ technology platform that significantly improve the experience for every traveler,” Archana Arunkumar, Expedia Group’s senior vice president of platform, said in a statement at that time. 

Each of the startups are listed with a description on the Expedia website. 

Some of them include: 

  • Becoming Rentable, a short-term rental platform focused on accessible properties
  • Greether, a platform dedicated to women that connects travelers with tour guides
  • Misterb&b, a short-term rental platform dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community

Tourism

Electric Biking, Cemetery Walks Among Fastest Growing U.S. Travel Experiences

2 months ago

Americans want savvy pricing regarding their travel experiences in the new year, as they keep an open mind about the type of things they plan to book. 

U.S. travelers are prioritizing price-driven travel in 2023, according to the latest Skyscanner data looking at travel preferences for 2023. The metasearch travel company added that 46 percent of consumers are planning the same number of vacations in 2023 as 2022, and 41 percent are thinking of even going on more trips next year. What’s more, 86 percent of respondents said they plan to spend the same, if not more, on travel in 2023. 

So, as vacations get prioritized next year over other big-ticket items, it’s interesting to note where people are headed to. Tours and activities brand Viator, owned by Tripadvisor, has just announced their 2022 Fastest-growing Travel Experiences list. From guided hiking in Puerto Rico to ghostly city tours in York, the list is based on the most bookings within a set period, and rated against over 300 different experiences.

  1. Siesta Key Electric Bike Sunset Tour
  2. Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour & Hoover Dam Photo Stop with Optional Skywalk
  3. Bonaventure Cemetery Walking Tour with Transportation
  4. Chef Guided Food Tour of Pike Place Market
  5. Sunset Sail in Key West with Beverages Included

The Siesta Key Electric Bike Sunset Tour has seen the most interest on the travel booking platform. Listed in the On The Ground, Mountain biking category the tour has some 590 reviews and 5 stars – although all the trips included in the fastest growing experiences in the US and Canada have 5 stars.

The second and third slots see a full-day Grand Canyon tour and a walking tour of a cemetery. Unfortunately, Viator doesn’t detail by what margin the tours grew or the number of overall bookings.

The categories show that outdoor adventures, with a green element or macabre twist, are top of mind for day-tour bookings.

Online Travel

Spontaneous Trips Are In; Ugly Sweaters Out This Holiday Season

2 months ago

There’s nothing quite like a surprise travel gift — and U.S. travelers are ready for it.

During the most wonderful time of the year, consumers are more optimistic about the holiday period since the pandemic started, despite concerns about the economy and rising prices. Americans are excited about holiday shopping but even more so about taking a holiday in 2023.

GetYourGuide survey shows more Americans are planning to travel for the holidays this year than in 2021 (52 percent compared to 48 percent last year), and travel tops the list of experiences people hope to be surprised with.

The finding shared by the travel booking platform shows that 77 percent of Americans would rather receive experiences over physical gifts if they could share them, with the following list of the top experiences they’d most like to enjoy.

  • Surprise travel (63 percent),
  •  Tickets to a concert or show (50 percent),
  •  An outdoor activity, such as skiing, boating or hiking (43 percent),
  •  Food tour or cooking class (36 percent),
  •  Wine or beer tasting (31percent),
  •  Or a trip to the museum (29 percent).

And the wanderlust bug appears to be biting hard, as most respondents weren’t picky either — as 96 percent said they would gladly take any of the top experiences listed above.

Want the latest insights on the business of travel in 2023 – Don’t miss the Skift Megatrends event in both online, and in New York City and London in January. 

Business Travel

Agoda Adds Fintech Partners Ahead of Asia’s Full-Scale Reopening

2 months ago

Travel platform Agoda has been pushing ahead with a series of new fintech partnerships, with its eye on Asia’s corporate travel recovery.

Agoda, which is part of Bookings Holdings, recently started working with Singapore’s global payment platform Sunrate, and is also now collaborating with Australia’s Airwallex to target business travelers in Hong Kong.

The deal with Sunrate will see it integrate its own online travel solution into Agoda. Sunrate helps online travel agencies support single and multiple corporate card payments for flights and accommodation, and lets users set spend limits and define usage.

Airwallex, which uses technology to help reduce the fees charged for processing overseas transactions, is partnering with Agoda to make travel planning easier for corporate customers in Hong Kong. Airwallex Hong Kong customers get discounts and cashback on accommodation bookings using their Airwallex Borderless Cards.

The company said 84 percent of its Hong Kong business clients plan to take a business trip in the next 6 months.

The partnerships come as China and Hong Kong gradually lift their travel restrictions. A day after China announced changes to its controversial zero-Covid policy, Hong Kong said inbound arrivals would only need to undergo daily rapid antigen tests for five days, instead of seven days.

“It is great to see businesses in Hong Kong recover from the pandemic, and to see so many that are eager to travel again,” said Giuliana Riitano, Asia Pacific market director of Agoda. “For many, their next business trip may be the first time they have traveled in a very long time.”

Travel Technology

Yanolja Profit Rises as Travel Rebounds in Korea and Asia Pacific

2 months ago

Yanolja said this week it expected that a post-pandemic rebound in international travel will continue to boost its twin businesses of online travel sales via a superapp and software sales to hotels and other travel companies. The South Korea-based startup has made progress on both ambitions since 2011, when it received a $1.7 billion investment from the Softbank Vision Fund in a transaction that valued Yanolja at the time at approximately US$9 billion.

The privately held travel company in South Korea reported this week some of its financial results for the third quarter, saying it had experienced “high growth rates in all business areas.”

Yanolja recorded consolidated sales of approximately $147 million (192.2 billion Korean won) in the quarter, a 112 percent jump from the same period a year.

Unlike many travel startups, the company is profitable. Yanolja reported an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, of about $8.1 million (10.6 billion Korean won).

Roughly half of the company’s growth has been partly driven by its software business, which had a 32 percent year-over-year increase to $71 million in sales in the quarter. For more context on the travel software sales, see Skift’s story Decoding Yanolja Cloud and Its Hotel Software Strategy.

The mid-sized company said it has been staffing up for roles in product management, software engineering, and user experience design, and has cash on hand to make acquisitions.

Jongyoon Kim, CEO of Yanolja, will discuss the company’s overall strategy and business performance at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on December 14. Kim joined Yanolja in 2015 as chief strategy officer and in 2021, was elevated to CEO. He has previously worked at McKinsey & Company, Google, and 3M. Many industry analysts wonder if Kim will be able to guide the ambitious tartup to a successful initial public offering someday, and if so, when.

Travel Technology

Bus Ticket Marketplace Busbud Makes 2nd Acquisition of 2022

3 months ago

Busbud, an online marketplace for bus and other ground transport tickets, is now offering more software services to operators in that industry following a company acquisition. 

Montreal-based Busbud has acquired Toronto-based Betterez, according to LP Maurice, CEO and co-founder of Busbud. 

The deal was made with a mix of cash and equity, Maurice said. As part of that deal, the group that made undisclosed investments into Betterez in 2017 and 2018 are now investors in Busbud. 

That means Amadeus Ventures is now a “key investor” in Busbud, along with JetBlue Ventures, Porter Airlines CEO Michael Deluce, and Donald Carty, former CEO and chairman of AMR Corporation. Angel Gallego, executive vice president of travel distribution for Amadeus, is joining the Busbud board as an observer. 

“As part of that transaction, they became shareholders into Busbud — pretty significant shareholders,” Maurice said. 

Further details about the deal price and terms were not disclosed.

The Busbud marketplace allows consumers to compare and buy tickets for intercity busses, trains, and other forms of ground transportation from nearly 4,000 companies in 16,000 cities across more than 80 countries.

Betterez is a reservations and ticketing management software platform, enabling mobile ticket sales and more for ground travel operators. 

Betterez is used by about 50 of the 4,000 bus companies that sell tickets through Busbud, Maurice said. 

“We could take what we think is a pretty good piece of software, a reservation system, and really introduce it to either folks that don’t have any — which is actually surprisingly often — and also people who have legacy systems but may not have all the range of functionality that Betterez offers,” Maurice said. “And they can become a lot more innovative and drive a lot more sales.” 

Busbud acquired Recorrido, a Chile-based intercity bus marketplace, earlier this year to support  expansion plans in Latin America. Busbud also raised $11 million earlier this year, bringing its total to $44 million raised. 

The company now employs more than 150 people worldwide and is hiring. 

Busbud has quadrupled net revenue year-over-year in 2022 and is now “significantly above” 2019 levels, Maurice said. 

He attributes much of that growth to increased demand for travel post-pandemic. And he is confident Busbud will continue doing well even as some consumers have less disposable income.  

“We’re actually seeing a lift in people taking the bus and not driving,” Maurice said. “Most of them are actually leaving their car at home because of gas prices.” 

Online Travel

Trip.com Jumps on Buy Now Pay Later Bandwagon

3 months ago

China’s Trip.com has struck two new partnerships, covering the UK and Asia Pacific, to give customers the opportunity to delay or spread out payments for their purchases.

In Asia Trip.com has joined forces with Atome, while in the UK it will use Klarna.

Trip.com bookers in the UK will see Klarna as an additional payment option when they arrive at check-out, where they’ll be able to choose one of three payment options: pay the full amount immediately, pay the full amount within 30 days, or pay in three installments over 60 days.

Trip.com’s Atome partnership will first only be available in Singapore, before other Asia Pacific regions in 2023.

In the face of a squeezed household budgets, buy now pay later schemes are becoming more popular. They tend to be common when buying bigger ticket items, like a vacation, but even food delivery platforms are looking to split payments for customers.

Klarna claims its short-term, interest and fee and fee free credit products deliver positive outcomes for consumers, with extremely low default rates of “well below 1 percent”.

“Klarna assesses a consumer’s ability to repay on each purchase, taking a real time view of someone’s financial circumstances which means using Klarna is never guaranteed,” it said.The company restricts the use of its services if consumers miss a payment to prevent debt building up.

Trip.com offers 1.2 million hotels and flights from 480 airlines.

Overtourism

Airbnb Data Says Flexible Search Tools Help Combat Overtourism

3 months ago

Airbnb said that the flexible search features it has rolled out since early 2021 have so far diverted bookings from destinations coping with overtourism and peak travel times, according to data it shared on Friday.

The short-term rental booking giant has increasingly offered search tools — see Skift’s earlier coverage: “Airbnb’s Next Big Change: Search” — in response to evidence that many people don’t have a destination or fixed dates in mind when they start researching trips.

Some of Airbnb’s new data points from its first whitepaper on “sustainable tourism” (embedded below).

  • “In 2019, the top 10 most visited cities on Airbnb in the European Union — including Paris, Barcelona, and Rome — accounted for 20 percent of all trips in Europe, whereas they account for just 14 percent of trips in 2022.”
  • “Guests using flexible search tools book less often in the 20 most popular destinations on Airbnb in Europe (-17.5 percent) and more often in less-visited communities ranked outside Airbnb’s top 400 destinations (+35.5 percent), when compared to guests booking via traditional search on Airbnb.”
  • “Guests booking via Airbnb’s flexible search tool—that provides an option to include a location without dates—are also more likely to book outside the top 10% most popular dates (-7.3 percent) and are more likely to book nights on weekdays (+5.7 percent).”
  • “Flexible search is also helping to redirect guests approximately 5 miles farther away from their initial intended location within cities, compared to traditional searchers on Airbnb … In Amsterdam, flexible bookers more often stay outside the city’s inner limits (+32.5 percent) compared to traditional bookers.”

As context: Airbnb’s search changes had two components.

People who don’t have a destination in mind can now be inspired by Airbnb’s new “Categories” category, which has been viewed more than 120 million times since August, according to company statements. This tool helps divert reservations away from Europe’s most saturated hotspots, according to Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, when discussing the report at Web Summit in Lisbon on Thursday.

Travelers with flexible dates have been able to take advantage of Airbnb’s recently added feature that lets them say they’re really interested in traveling anywhere for a week and a week or a month anytime in the next year. The tool lets some travelers avoid peak time crushes in travel because of seasonality.

The report’s data points echos comments Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky made at Skift Global Forum in September.

“What we want to do now is we want to be more in the inspiration business,” Chesky said. “You come to Airbnb and we can point demand to where we have supply. … We can highlight what makes us unique and get into the top of the purchasing funnel, which is basically giving people ideas of where to travel based on what’s available.”

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (see full video)

Airbnb has been attempting to cope with the overtourism ever since 2018, when it created an “office of healthy tourism,” which at the time was the company’s term for proper tourism growth management. It began adding flexible search tools in early 2021, as Skift reported.

Skift coined the term overtourism to describe “a potential hazard to popular destinations worldwide, as the dynamic forces that power tourism often inflict unavoidable negative consequences if not managed well.”

See Airbnb’s sustainable tourism report, below:

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