Hello from Skift. It’s Friday, May 13 in New York. Here’s what you need to know about the travel industry today.
Today’s edition of Skift’s Daily Podcast discusses Airbnb’s multipronged efforts to boost consumer confidence, what Marriott sees as its secret advantage in the vacation rental market, and the latest hotspots. for digital nomads.
Airbnb announced this week that it was increasing the number of search categories on its website and app — a move the company said it made to increase consumer confidence in the platform, reports Sean O’Neill, hotel editor.
Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s global head of lodging, told Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali on Thursday at Skift’s Future of Lodging forum in New York that changing consumer behavior and changing bookings of travel prompted the online travel agency to create 56 search categories on its platform. Many consumers, she said, are both new to Airbnb and to short-term rentals, so the company believes the expanded categorization will help them find what they’re looking for and remove any uncertainty about when booking places to stay.
Next, Marriott’s Homes & Villas unit takes a different approach than its vacation home rental rivals when it comes to growing its customer base. It is using its loyalty program as a vehicle for growth, reports Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Jennifer Hsieh, vice president of the unit, said Thursday in a chat with Sean O’Neill, editor of Skift Hospitality, that its rivals, Homes & Villas, consider its loyalty program – the Marriott Bonvoy – as a source of strength. The Bonvoy program provides Homes & Villas with a wealth of information about each guest’s preferences, allowing the unit to tailor the types of rentals it believes will appeal to an individual guest. Hsieh cited the example of Homes & Villas offering a list of ski resorts for potential customers who love skiing.
Marriott Bonvoy members are responsible for approximately one-third of unit reservations. But Hsieh acknowledged that Homes & Villas needs to do a better job of providing customers with a more seamless online experience, which the company believes an app it is developing will help it accomplish.
Finally, common travel patterns are emerging among the growing segment of digital nomads, reports business travel editor Matthew Parsons in this week’s Future of Work briefing.
Sam Khazary, senior vice president of global business development at Selina, told the Forum this week that his company has discovered that Central and South America have become hotspots for digital nomads. Khazary added that digital nomads from certain countries are inclined to travel to certain destinations, citing Panama’s popularity among Israel’s remote workers as an example. Selina is well positioned to capitalize on digital nomads’ interest in travel to Central and South America, where two-thirds of the company’s portfolio is located.