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. 

Online Travel

Ask Skift: Expedia’s Short-Term Rental Strategy

9 months ago

Ask Skift is our artificial intelligence chatbot that offers a new way for readers to better engage with our breadth of knowledge and our latest experimentation creating products travel professionals rely on. It digs into news stories, Skift Research reports, Airline Weekly issues, Skift Live events, the Daily Lodging Report, and more to answer many questions about the travel industry.

Here are three questions we asked it about Expedia’s short-term rental business.

How has Expedia’s short-term rental business changed over the last 5 years?
Over the last 5 years, Expedia has been working on diversifying its offerings, including expanding its short-term rental business. However, the company has faced challenges in integrating its various product offerings across its many brands. For instance, Vrbo’s short-term rental inventory was long siloed from Expedia’s other offerings (12/05/2022). Expedia has also made acquisitions and created new businesses to address the short-term rental market, but some of these experiments have been shut down to focus on the core business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (05/26/2020).

As the short-term rental industry has evolved, Expedia has had to adapt to the increasing convergence between different accommodation sectors. Platforms like Expedia and Booking.com have started to mix various types of accommodations in their search results, making it harder to define what is included in the short-term rental or vacation rental sector (12/03/2020).

Overall, Expedia’s short-term rental business has seen changes and challenges over the last 5 years as the company works to diversify its offerings and adapt to the evolving accommodation landscape.
What is Expedia’s main short-term rental brand and why?
Expedia’s main short-term rental brand is Vrbo (previously HomeAway). Vrbo operates an online marketplace for alternative accommodations, focusing on whole-home vacation rentals. It has localized websites around the world and serves as a platform for families to find the space they need to relax, reconnect, and enjoy their time away together. Expedia Group, which owns Vrbo, has broader interests in the travel industry, including other brands like Expedia.com and Hotels.com. However, Vrbo stands out as their primary brand in the short-term rental market due to its focus on whole-home rentals and family travel experiences.
What is the difference between the business models of Airbnb and Vrbo?
Airbnb and Vrbo have different business models in terms of property types and target markets. Airbnb offers a variety of property types, including apartments, private rooms, and vacation rentals, catering to a wide range of guests. On the other hand, Vrbo focuses primarily on whole homes, targeting families and larger groups looking for vacation rentals in destination resort areas.

Airbnb’s adaptable business model allows it to offer the right type of supply in many parts of the world, depending on market conditions. This diverse supply enables Airbnb to continue growing in various segments. In contrast, Vrbo’s focus on whole homes may limit its growth potential in certain markets.

Additionally, Airbnb has a broader brand recognition and attracts more direct traffic and bookings compared to Vrbo. Airbnb has also been more nimble in adapting to market changes, such as transitioning to emphasize long-term stays faster than its competitors.

In terms of host and property manager relationships, Airbnb has been trying to downplay professional hosts, while Vrbo adopts a hybrid approach, catering to both individual homeowners and professional property managers. Airbnb has been increasing its share of professionally managed vacation rental bookings but still mostly serves lower-value rentals, contributing less to overall revenue for professional property managers compared to Vrbo.

Overall, the main differences between Airbnb and Vrbo’s business models lie in their property types, target markets, adaptability, and relationships with hosts and property managers.

Online Travel

Veteran Vrbo Exec Jeff Hurst Is Leaving as Expedia Poaches Another Googler

1 year ago

Longtime Vrbo executive Jeff Hurst, who was chief operating officer of Expedia brands and formerly Vrbo’s president, is leaving the company.

Jeff Hurst, a former Vrbo president, at an Expedia Group conference in Las Vegas in 2019. Source: Expedia Group.

This follows the exit in September of John Kim, who was president of Expedia Marketplace, and last month became executive vice president and chief product officer at PayPal.

Expedia Group announced earlier this week that Brad Bentley, most previously president and CEO of clean energy company Inspire, would become chief operating officer of Expedia brands, taking Hurst’s role.

Hurst had been with Expedia/Vrbo and predecessor company HomeAway since 2010.

Kim has worked at Expedia/HomeAway since 2011.

Following Expedia Group hiring former Google travel advertising director Rob Torres in April, Expedia stated this week that it hired Tript Singh Lamba, most previously head of head of product for YouTube ad monetization and personalization at Google, as senior vice president of consumer product for Expedia product & technology.

Bentley will report to Jon Gieselman, president, Expedia Brands, including Expedia, Vrbo and Hotels.com. Lamba will report to Rathi Murthy, Expedia Group’s chief technology officer and president, Expedia product & technology.

“Building long-lasting direct traveler relationships and operating more effectively with our capital allocation are core components of our B2C strategy,” Giselman said in the announcement statement. “It is critical to have a leader that understands all the complicated investment tradeoffs between customer acquisition, engagement, and retention, and can apply that experience to our planning, operating model, and daily operations. Brad’s substantial operational experience with direct-to-consumer products puts our Brands division in a position to thrive even more.”

Expedia didn’t announce a reason for Hurst’s departure, and a spokesperson characterized it as merely a leadership change after Hurst’s more than 10 years of accomplishments at Expedia and HomeAway.

Hurst didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Online Travel

Expedia Vet John Kim Leaving to Be PayPal Chief Product Officer

1 year ago

Expedia’s John Kim is stepping down to take a new role at PayPal as executive vice president, chief product officer, beginning Sept. 26.

Kim, who was once in the running to replace CEO Mark Okerstrom after his shock departure in 2019, leaves after a stint of more than 10 years at the travel brand. He was most recently president of Expedia Marketplace.

He’s also served as president of HomeAway/Vrbo after it was acquired by Expedia in 2015. Kim was credited as leading Vrbo’s transition from a largely subscription business toward a digital business where many management companies and hosts pay commissions per booking instead of an annual fee.

Previously he worked at Yahoo, Overture, Accenture, Bank of America and Pelago.

At PayPal, Kim will lead the consumer and merchant product and engineering teams, the company said. He succeeds current chief product officer Mark Britto, who will remain with PayPal for a transition period, before retiring at the end of this year.

PayPal has made several key hires this year, including adding a new chief financial officer and information officer.

Online Travel

Google Travel Grabs Larger Share of U.S. Desktop Traffic During Pandemic

2 years ago

Google Travel’s flight and hotel offerings gained the most desktop traffic market share in the U.S. during the pandemic while Tripadvisor lost the most on a percentage basis, according to Similarweb’s June data.

“Google Travel now owns one-fourth of all (U.S.) desktop visits to top travel sites,” Similarweb said.

Similarweb

In its earnings call about second quarter financials Tuesday, Google said travel and retail were the drivers of its advertising revenue during the period.

The following chart shows Google Travel’s U.S. desktop market share increased 6 percentage points to 24 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of pre-pandemic 2019.

U.S. Desktop Market Share Traffic Gains/Losses H1 2019 Versus H1 2022

Site20192022
Google Travel18%24%
Booking.com14%16%
Airbnb14%15%
Expedia13%13%
Southwest6%6%
Vrbo4%6%
Marriott5%5%
Delta8%4%
TripAdvisor9%4%

Source: Simillarweb

“Booking has also gained 2 percentage points of share in the U.S., and only Kayak (-1 percentage point), Delta (-4 percentage points), and TripAdvisor (-5 percentage points) have lost share,” Similarweb said.

There are two points to keep in mind: These numbers don’t include traffic from mobile devices, and traffic to Google Travel often gets sent along to online travel agency advertisers.

Short-Term Rentals

U.S. Short-Term Rental Nightly Rates Push Even Higher in Record Summer

2 years ago

Despite the fears of recession and soaring fuel prices that have retreated somewhat in recent weeks, average daily rates for short-term rentals in the U.S. this summer jumped 7 percent year over year — and that’s nearly 30 percent higher than the summer of pre-pandemic 2019.

airbnb source airbnb
Airbnb short-term rental stay. Source: Airbnb

Those conclusions were part of an update to AirDNA’s mid-year 2022 outlook, which said U.S. average daily rate growth is highest in urban and coastal areas. (See chart below).

“As we look to summer 2022 (June-August), more STR nights have been booked than any other summer in history, as of the end of June,” the report said. “The previous record was set just last year, and the U.S. is currently seeing 12.3% more booked nights than at the same point in time in 2021.”

Short-term rental demand in big cities this summer, though, is still 28.3 percent lower than in the summer of 2019, AirDNA found.

In addition, AirDNA forecast that the U.S. supply of short-term rentals would jump 21 percent year-over-year in 2022 as both Airbnb and Vrbo increased their listings.

“With supply outpacing demand growth as expected, our outlook for occupancy is largely unchanged,” AirDNA said. “Our revised forecast now calls for U.S. occupancy to average 58.2% for the year, slightly lower than our 59.8% forecast in October.”

AirDNA’s occupancy numbers seems to be more bullish than those of Key Data Dashboard. The latter’s occupancy stats may skew more heavily toward vacation rentals specifically.

Occupancy rates in the U.S. in the third quarter (July, August and September) are currently at 39 percentdown from 45 percent during the same period in a standout 2021, according to Melanie Brown, director of analytics at Key Data Dashboard, which tracks vacation rental data.

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb Takes Market Share With Increased Conversion Rates

2 years ago

Airbnb is winning market share because of increased conversion rates, according to SimilarWeb estimates.

Conversion rates are when visitors to Airbnb platforms book a stay.

Website and mobile traffic analytics firm SimilarWeb found that in the first quarter of 2022, Airbnb’s conversion rate in the U.S. increased 22 percent compared with the first quarter of 2021, and the conversion of lookers to bookers increased 22 percent sequentially from the fourth quarter of 2021.

These conversion numbers in the U.S. were higher than Vrbo’s, a competitor, SimilarWeb found.

“This indicates market share growth and strong revenues for 1Q,” according to SimilarWeb.

In the first quarter, Airbnb’s revenue increased 80 percent to $1.5 billion when measured against the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2019. The increase was 70 percent year over year.

“Conversions grew 30 percent, 93 percent, 24 percent and 37 percent in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, respectively,” SimilarWeb found.