Skift Travel News Blog

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

Online Travel

Turo Saw Rise in Electric Vehicle Demand Over Summer

6 months ago

Turo, the peer-to-peer car rental startup, has seen an uptick in electric vehicle use for summer road trips.

The platform’s “electric” filter saw a 139% increase in use during listing searches, according to Turo’s Chief Data Officer, Albert Mangahas who confirmed Turo guests made summer bookings in 2,700 different cities and towns for travel between June 1 and September 1.

Notable Summer Travel Booking Patterns: 

  • Last year, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida saw the most demand for EV bookings.
  •  Popular electric models include the Lucid Air, Rivian R1T and R1S, and Teslas.
  •  Luxury travel is rising, with a 21% uptick in searches for high-end vehicles like the Rolls-Royce Ghost and BMW 7 Series on Turo for summer trips.  
  •  Family travel is surging, marked by a 162% increase in the use of Turo’s “family-friendly” filter and a growing demand for added conveniences like car delivery and optional perks.

There are 165,000 active hosts listed on the platform, with 330,000 active vehicles. Electric vehicles made up 7% of active listings, as of April 2023. Mangahas added that electric vehicles accounted for 14% of the company’s overall gross booking value in 2022.

A Push to Eco-friendly Experiences

Turo said it is partnering with hosts to highlight sustainable travel, starting with an upcoming eclipse event in Austin, Texas. A local host will list ten electric vehicles for $14 on October 14, the eclipse day.

Each vehicle comes with two passes to Turo’s exclusive viewing party at Joshua Creek Ranch in Boerne, TX, right on the Path of Totality. The event will feature a live performance by Lindsay Beaver, Texas-style BBQ, and lawn games, providing a unique and eco-conscious way for travelers to experience the celestial event.

“Car rentals are especially popular during solar events, leading to sold-out inventory and price hikes,” said Mangahas, reflecting on the surge in demand during a 2017 solar event.

Skift previously reported on the potential of electric vehicle adoption for tourism with substantial federal funding to expand EV infrastructure, approved by the Biden Administration. Some $5 billion over five years has been pegged for cities and businesses looking to bolster their tourism economies to develop a charging station network across the U.S.

Improved EV infrastructure bodes well for the trends the company sees as it looks to maintain its carbon neutrality certification.

Mangahas declined to comment further when asked about Turo continuously updating its S-1 filings or the company’s readiness to go public.

Tour Operators

Klook’s New Animal Welfare Policy Puts Cruelty-Free Experiences in Focus

6 months ago

Online travel marketplace Klook is ending the sale of certain exploitative wildlife attractions on its platform, with a new animal welfare policy, set to come into effect on 31 October.

The experiences platform will stop selling circus-style performances involving elephants, dolphins, and tigers, animal shows performances, and animal-photo experiences. It has since removed experiences for Miami Seaquarium and Sea Life Park Hawaii, according to a statement by World Animal Protection.

“Klook must go further,” said Nicole Barrantes, Wildlife Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection, “It must remove all wildlife attractions, including its elephant bathing and feeding offerings, which still involve significant cruelty behind the scenes.”

Klook was pinpointed as enabling animal interactions in a WAP Tracking the Travel Industry report released in February, tying with Groupon for the lowest score in the sector. World Animal Protection stated that companies assessed were given feedback and a timeframe within which to report back as well as put into effect any necessary changes to improve their offering and overall responsible tourism weighting. It had not received any feedback or policy changes from Groupon, as yet.


Airbnb Data Says Flexible Search Tools Help Combat Overtourism

1 year 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: