Skift Travel News Blog

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

Short-Term Rentals

Oman Tourism Opens the Way for Approved Short-Term Rentals

2 weeks ago

UnderTheDoormat Group CEO Merilee Karr said her company’s new technology and distribution agreement with Visit Oman can be a novel approach to short-term regulation — one where technology can spur governments to embrace the sector rather than shun it.

UnderTheDoormat CEO Merilee Karr and Shabib Al Maamari, managing director, Visit Oman, signed a a short-term rental distribution partnership last month at the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in Muscat, Oman. Source: Oman Ministry of Heritage and Tourism

Through an agreement signed last month in Muscat, Oman, government-approved property listings delivered through the UK’s UnderTheDoormat Group’s Hospira property management and distribution platform were live in November in time for the World Cup in Qatar.

Oman already offered had short-term rentals through hotel licenses and from a variety of players on big global platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com.

But Karr said the tech partnership breaks new ground, officially opens the market, and provides Oman with the transparency it sought about an otherwise-fragmented sector.

Property developers, hospitality companies, small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), and eventually individually owned short-term rentals that are licensed can connect their properties through Hospira to access the market, and the major global platforms, she said.

The Visit Oman-UnderTheDoormat Group pact is exclusive, Karr said.

Like others in the Middle East, Oman is trying to develop a more diversified tourism economy.

“Through the Visit Oman gateway, the Hospiria platform will provide an efficient launching point for Omani companies, SMEs, and property owners to place their apartments, villas and homes onto the short-term rental market globally,” said Sahib Al Mamari, managing director of Visit Oman, as part of the announcement. “This latest Visit Oman initiative with UnderTheDoormat falls in line with the broader, existing Oman Tourism Vision 2040 strategy, and serves to shift the Sultanate of Oman towards a more diversified and developed tourism economy, and one that leverages digital innovation and technology to maximize value for the Omani tourism market, as well as the tourism-related SME economy in Oman.”

Online Travel

Expedia Group Launches a Startup Accelerator To Foster Innovation on Its Platform

2 months ago

Expedia Group announced the launch of a startup accelerator to empower innovation on its business to business platform.

Selected startups — and small businesses, as well — would get technology and business development support, mentorship from Expedia Group personnel as well as outside experts, a non-equity grant, and access to the Expedia Group platform and products.

Companies can apply to the Open World Accelerator program by October 21 here. To qualify they must be striving to make the travel industry “more open and accessible,” be less than a decade old, and already have at least a minimum viable product.

Archana Arunkumar, Senior Vice President of Platform. “Expedia Group’s mission is to power travel for everyone, everywhere,” said Archana Arunkumar, Expedia Group’s senior vice president of platform in a statement. “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.”

Travel Technology

Faroe Islands’ National Gallery Becomes the First to Launch Artificial Intelligence Exhibit

2 months ago

The National Gallery of the Faroe Islands launched an exhibition this week containing 40 images of the archipelago developed by artificial intelligence program Midjourney, becoming the first national gallery to feature a fully produced show created by artificial intelligence. 

The exhibit, which runs from September 29 through October 30, reveals how prominent artists — such as Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso — might have depicted the landscape of the remote archipelago in the North Atlantic. Visitors to the national gallery will also have the opportunity to create their own images of the Faroe Islands using Midjourney.

“When I first heard of (artificial intelligence) and Midjourney and how it is possible to create new pictures just like individual artists might have done, it immediately intrigued me,” said Karina Lykke Grand, director of the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands.

“It was fascinating to see how by giving prompts, the system can get an idea of how an artist such as Van Gogh or Picasso might have painted the Faroe Islands.”

The exhibit exploring the Faroe Islands through the eyes of prominent artists (Courtesy Visit Faroe Islands)

Hotels

Hotel Tech Vendor Mews Launches Investment Arm

4 months ago

Salesforce-backed Mews has launched a dedicated investment arm called Mews Ventures.

The company, which provides enterprise software to hotels with what’s commonly known as a property management system, or PMS, said it wants to help shape the future of hospitality.

Mews Ventures will focus on three areas: transformation, partnerships and product boosts.

Mews founder Richard Valtr said the new venture reflected its series of acquisitions over the past two years, which includes Cenium, Hotel Perfect and Bizzon.

“By bringing together the brightest minds in tech, hospitality and beyond, we aim to fuel growth and innovation,” he wrote in a blog post.

The new investment arm will “accelerate the technological transformation of our industry by consolidating past leaders as well as boosting new and interesting ideas in hospitality, connecting the best people and technology with the growing Mews community.”

Mews employs 600 people in 15 locations around the world.

Airlines

Aviation Tech Provider SITA Raises $400 Million In ‘Green Financing’

5 months ago

SITA, a global technology provider for the aviation industry, has raised $400 million in so-called green financing.

As Skift described in its 2022 Megatrends report, green financing is an emerging trend where investments are made in companies that support or provide planet-friendly practices or products.

Four new banks have now signed up to support SITA with a sustainability-linked revolving credit facility, which has a minimum three-year term, the company said on Thursday.

The new funds will be directly linked to pre-agreed environmental key performance indicators and yearly targets, with a bonus (or penalty charge) on the interest margin depending on SITA’s performance. Performance against the targets will be externally audited.

The cash will go towards supporting the company’s general business needs, “such as developing new solutions and strategies to alleviate the air transport industry’s challenges of today and in the future,” it said in the statement.

SITA said it had ramped up its emission reduction efforts in recent years, achieving carbon neutral status under The CarbonNeutral Protocol in 2021. More recently it announced its commitment to setting science-based targets via the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) to join other leading companies to combat climate change aligned to net-zero and the 1.5C scenario of the Paris Agreement.

SITA’s five existing banking partners also participated in the raise.

“Sustainability is high on our agenda and we are deeply committed to ensuring a sustainable future for all, including for our employees, customers, and partners,” said Nicolas Husson, SITA’s chief financial officer. “We are delighted to secure financing that is directly linked to the performance of our sustainability ambitions.”

Speaking at Skift’s Sustainable Tourism Summit at the end of June, Intrepid’s chairman revealed that the tour operator recently received a large investment from a family-owned private equity firm because of its sustainability stance.

Saudi Arabia is also aiming to prop up its Red Sea tourism project with an up to $2.7 billion loan in green financing.

During the pandemic, SITA’s CEO said the tech provider had weathered the storm. but the private company will undoubtedly have been impacted by poor performances from its airports and airline customers as the pandemic continued to hammer travel.

“We contained our fall in revenue to -27% for the year, at $1.34 billion, compared to the previous year’s $1.8 billion,” said Barbara Dalibard in her 2020 report. “In reacting quickly to the crisis, we decreased our cost base in 2020 by 18 percent versus prior year, while reducing external support by 50 percent.”

It also achieved $300 million in cost reductions.

SITA was formerly known as Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques, and was founded by 11 airlines more than a decade ago. The company’s board includes executives from several airlines.

Filters

Tags

technology

Clear Filters