Airbnb and Wego partner to offer ME travellers more accommodation options

Posted by - August 20, 2018

Wego co-founders Craig Hewett (L) and Ross Veitch (R)Airbnb has announced a partnership with Wego, the largest online travel marketplace in the Middle East and North Africa, to include properties listed on Airbnb in Wego search results.
With the addition of listings on Airbnb, travellers using the Wego metasearch apps and websites will have more access to local homes and accommodation in destinations worldwide. Wego users have to enter their destination city and dates of travel, and to follow the recommended filters to search for Airbnb vacation rentals.
As the leading travel metasearch player across the MENA region, Wego helps users to compare a marketplace of hotels, serviced apartments, homes and villas and to compare rates across OTAs, hotel direct websites and other merchants. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace offers access to millions of places to stay in more than 191 countries, from apartments and villas to castles and treehouses.
“The lack of instantly bookable properties resulted in poor conversion rates”
Ross Veitch, CEO and cofounder of Wego, told us exclusively: “We’ve been interested in the alternative accommodation category for several years now and actually launched a holiday rentals metasearch product back in 2012. At that time we found that the lack of instantly bookable properties resulted in poor conversion rates and frankly it wasn’t a great user experience, so we took it offline and waited for the category to mature – which it clearly has.
“We’ve been talking to Airbnb about doing something together on and off for a couple of years – as the biggest player in the category it made sense to start with Airbnb and work closely with them to help define how the product would work.
“2018 is when our interest in augmenting our accommodation product dove-tailed with their interest in expanding into some new markets where we can help drive significant levels of demand for them.”
Hadi Moussa, general manager for MEA at Airbnb, said in a press release previously: “The high quality range of properties on Airbnb will be a great addition for Wego customers who are seeking new accommodation options and experiences, and want to live like a local. We are confident that this partnership will be welcomed by Wego users and will contribute to diversifying the hospitality business in the region.”
Wego users will be able to view Airbnb properties across all destinations worldwide, including in Dubai, Beirut, Istanbul, Amman, Marrakech, London, Paris and New York.
“Families from the GCC place a premium on privacy when travelling”
Anna Trushkina, director, hotels at Wego, added: “Analysis of search and booking data, from across the 60 countries worldwide that Wego operates, shows that users from GCC countries have the longest length of stay, highest spend per night and most frequent instance of multiple room bookings to accommodate family groups.
“We also know that many families from the GCC place a premium on privacy when travelling. Based on all of this we think that private homes, villas and apartments are a great fit for the needs of the market.”
Veitch concluded: “Wego users now have a lot more accommodation options plus the ability to compare hotels and private home stays side-by-side with just one search. We do intend to add additional alternative accommodation partners and will be making further partnership announcements in due course.”

Astro-tourism: Airbnb launches ‘blood moon’ experience

Posted by - July 13, 2018

The Milky Way, visible next to Gran Telescopio Canarias Airbnb has launched a unique Social Impact Experience to offer guests a close view of the Red Planet by visiting the world’s largest telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) in Spain’s Canary Islands.
In today’s experience-driven industry, astro-tourism has become of interest and it’s steadily gaining ground. To capitalise on this trend, Airbnb is offering a truly one-of-a-kind experience to its guests and hosts – a glimpse of the Red Planet through the world’s largest telescope.
From 27 July to 31 July, Mars will draw closer to the Earth as it has been in 15 years. In effect, the red planet will cause the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st-century in which the moon will turn red, a phenomenon called the ‘blood moon’.
On the night of the 27th, Airbnb hosts will offer stargazers a visit to the largest single-aperture optical and infrared telescope in the world, the Gran Telescopio Canarias. The experience will be hosted by Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide and night photography expert, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, chief of scientific operations of GTC.
Mars (left) and the Milky Way (right), visible from an Airbnb listing in La Palma Related Posts Joe Zadeh, head of Airbnb Experiences, commented: “This experience at GTC is an extraordinary opportunity for travellers worldwide to marvel at the beauty of the night sky, and to educate the general public on why it’s important to preserve it.”
“Astro-tourism is an environmentally friendly, authentic, sustainable way to travel”
“Astro-tourism is an environmentally friendly, authentic, sustainable way to travel that can economically empower lesser-known, rural communities, and we are proud to be boosting this phenomenon thanks to hosts who share their home or passion for astronomy on the platform.”
Guests preparing to observe Mars in one of the best locations on the planet The 6-hour experience will give the opportunity to clearly see Mars in its full red glory in one of the best stargazing spots on the planet and show them the importance of dark-sky preservation. It will only be available once for up to six guests, on a first come, first served basis at EUR 40 (USD 46) each. All booking fees will be donated to WWF Spain.
Other trending astro-tourism destinations include Antofagasta (327% year-on-year growth) a Chilean city located next to the Atacama desert which is home to some of the best telescopes in the world; La Palma, Spain (90%); Kiruna, Sweden (134%); and Yarmouth, Canada (221%).

Airbnb pairs with Thai government to boost hospitality standards

Posted by - July 12, 2018

Airbnb has announced an official partnership with the Thai government, to train local provincial officials on hospitality, hosting, and compliance standards.
The ‘Empowering Local Tourism Entrepreneurs’ partnership, between the company and Thailand Ministry of Interior’s Department of Local Administration (DLA), will train local officials across all 76 provinces to boost hospitality standards and will onboard existing homestays onto Airbnb’s global platform.
As part of the partnership, Airbnb and the Ministry of Interior’s DLA agree to:
Conduct training sessions focused on sharing information about Airbnb, how to use the platform to distribute tourism income to local communities across Thailand Train officials on hospitality, hosting and compliance standards to raise the quality of local homestays Equip officials with the digital literacy skills to help locals create and manage their own listings on the platform Build a local community of hosts in each province who can support and learn from each other First in Southeast Asia The launch was followed by a country-first joint training workshop conducted by three Airbnb Superhosts and Community Leaders, and guest speakers from the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Provincial Administration and the Thai Immigration Bureau.
Over 100 Thai officials attended the workshop including representatives from the Provincial Office for Local Administrations, and selected local administrative organizations in the tourism sector across 11 provinces.
“This will help them provide the best hospitality experience and further attract returning travellers.”
The DLA’s director general Suttipong Juljarern said: “The Department (DLA) believes the partnership with Airbnb will strengthen communities across the country and encourage the formation of a comprehensive ecosystem for tourism management…and will surely encourage economic development in rural areas.
“This will help us achieve the United Nations’ and the Royal Thai Government’s goals to alleviate poverty, as this additional stream of revenue for locals means the improvement of their living standards in all respects.
“The training workshop will help promote development in local areas by sustainably building accommodation capacity, and upskilling and empowering officials to become professional community managers. It also prepares locals to be ready to host and welcome both Thai and foreign tourists to their communities. This will help them provide the best hospitality experience and further attract returning travellers.”
“Airbnb has always been open to working with the government”
Related Posts Airbnb has entered partnerships with government agencies in over 300 cities worldwide to strengthen their footing in the market. Cheryl Tay, regional public affairs specialist of Airbnb Asia Pacific, confirmed to me that it is the first partnership of Airbnb with a country in Southeast Asia and they are very excited.
When asked whether the company will replicate this partnership in other countries in SEA, Tay said: “I can’t say for now if we will replicate this because each city is different and we have to tailor it. However, Airbnb has always been open to working with the government on the basis of what makes sense for them.”
Is Airbnb illegal in Thailand? Earlier this year, Airbnb caused quite a stir in APAC when several countries reviewed how the company operates its business. In Thailand, a court in Hua Hin province ruled that short-term rentals or those rented out on a daily or weekly basis are illegal. People renting out their rooms have not obtained a license to run a hotel business under the 2004 Hotel Act.
District authorities enforcing the hotel act for apartment rentals have increased since 2016 with some Airbnb community members seeking clarification from the home-sharing site on the legal status. However, the crackdown is not particularly focusing on online home-sharing, but rather owners of condos, or apartments, who engage in daily rentals.
While not directly pointing fingers to Airbnb, if the ruling is enforced nationwide, it could endanger Airbnb’s position in the kingdom. Condo owners who let their units to Thai and foreign customers via the app fear that the ruling will no longer allow them to operate their business.
Hua Hin This issue caused a lot of confusion among hosts and guests whether Airbnb is seizing its operation in the kingdom. Due to the confusion, Airbnb requested a review of the Hotel Act to accommodate the changing of times and the changes in how we travel.
Cheryl Tay confirmed that guests can still book accommodation in Thailand and it is business as usual for them. Tay also emphasized how big the market is in Thailand saying that there are over 60,000 listings in the country. Bangkok was the most visited city in 2017 making it a valuable market for the company. She added that the partnership will benefit the local tourism in Thailand.
“Promoting digital inclusion”
“We are committed to working with the Ministry of Interior’s DLA to support local homestays across Thailand by empowering communities with important hospitality skills and connecting them to an international network of travelers, while promoting responsible and sustainable travel,” Mich Goh, Airbnb head of public policy for Southeast Asia, said.
“By promoting digital inclusion and the effective use of our platform to attract inbound guests domestically and abroad, we will help drive economic growth in areas that have not traditionally benefited from tourism,” Goh added.

Direct bookings startup Triptease’s funding reaches USD 13 million

Posted by - June 26, 2018

Following our story in April where Triptease content manager Lily McIlwain, told us about the direct booking start up’s report into the future of A/B testing, the company has now announced it has raised USD 4 million from original investors BGF and Notion Capital.
The additional funds bring the total monies raised up to a total of USD 13 million.
Charlie Osmond, founder and chief tease at Triptease, says: “We are delighted that our investors want to back us further in our bid to shift the world to direct bookings. A direct relationship with customers reduces a hotel’s spend on middleman commissions whilst allowing them to offer cutting-edge services like mobile check-in alongside ancillary upsells. Savvy consumers have also started to realise hotels prefer guests who book direct. Room upgrades and special incentives have become commonplace benefits for booking direct.”
Triptease in Asia
Related Posts Triptease will use the additional cash to develop its business in Asia, following on from the successful opening of its Singapore office last year. As well as to continue developing its products and services, notably by upping the current roll our rate of its automated chatbot to more hotels in the region.
The latest tranche of funding will also go towards the development and expansion Triptease’s Direct Booking Summit event, which takes place in different regions around the world three times a year – with the next edition kicking off in Amsterdam on 27 June, with representatives from Best Western, Google and Airbnb.
“We are very happy to provide Triptease with more capital”
Simon Calver, head of investments-ventures, at BGF, says: “Triptease is building its business around the world very rapidly. As consolidation takes place across the travel sector, there is a huge opportunity for Triptease to sell its software to hoteliers who really care about building a high quality business. As a patient capital investor BGF is excited about the long-term growth potential that travel offers for disruptive software businesses and we are very happy to provide Triptease with more capital as its expansion continues apace.”

Airbnb suffers blow in APAC with new legal rulings

Posted by - June 8, 2018

Airbnb has said that new legislation in Asia and the Pacific “stinks”. Japan, Thailand, and Australia recently released new regulations that will affect the company’s listings.
Japan and New South Wales in Australia have put a cap on the number of days that people can rent their properties. In Thailand, the court ruled that it is illegal to rent out a room on a daily or weekly basis.
Supporters of the regulations argue that, while the service provides a wider range of lodging options for budget-conscious travellers, Airbnb is detrimental to housing prices and supply as well as the identity of the community.
These hurdles are nothing new for the home-sharing company. A number of cities like Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, New York, and San Francisco have in the past set up special regulations to short-term rentals and it seems that APAC is simply catching up.
Japan’s ‘minpaku’ law Japan has rolled out a new law called private temporary lodging or ‘minpaku’ law, which will become effective on 15 June. Under the new legislation, hosts must register their listing and obtain a license to operate. Moreover, hosts can only offer short-term accommodation of up to 180 days.
As a response, Airbnb voluntarily removed 80% of its listings prior to the effective date of the law, bringing the 62,000 listings recorded earlier this year down to 13,000. Moreover, the Japanese government approved 152 out of 724 applications, according to Japan Tourism Agency.
The Japanese government has ordered that any host without a license number (including those whose license are in the registration process or awaiting their license) to cancel all reservations made prior to 15 June.
Airbnb said that it will abide by the new law and will not display the listings of properties without a permit. Rooms that were removed will be reinstated once the host obtains the permit and submits relevant information to the company.
“We know this stinks – and that’s an understatement”
“We are incredibly sorry. We know this stinks – and that’s an understatement,” Airbnb said in a statement.
The company created Japan Travel Response Plan for the guests whose travel is inconvenienced by Japan’s new policy. This will include a full refund to travellers and a 24/7 support if they need to find a new place to stay. Airbnb also claimed that it will continue to help its partners in obtaining a license to operate.
Related Posts Australia’s crackdown In New South Wales in Australia, the government took action on Airbnb listings that are ‘permanent,’ which blurs the demarcation line between hotel rooms and home sharing.
The NSW government announced new rules on short-term rentals that will cap short-term letting to half the year in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle. It will also allow strata corporations to vote to ban Airbnb and the likes, but only investors who own apartments in the building will be impeded by the rules.
Despite the crackdown, Airbnb commended the NSW government with the new rules saying that it “strikes the right balance”. The new rules protect the homeowners while reprimanding bad behaviour.
Airbnb’s global head of policy Chris Lehane said: “Airbnb welcomes the new fair and innovative rules announced by the New South Wales Government which give home sharing the green light in NSW. They bring the rules for home sharing into the 21st century and send a clear signal that NSW embraces healthy tourism.
“With the cost-of-living painfully high, these fair and innovative rules will make it simple and easy for people and working families to share their own homes to make extra income. The rules will be a boost for the NSW economy and a welcome relief for the countless small, local businesses who rely on the Airbnb guest dollar,” Sam McDonagh, Airbnb’s country manager for Australia, added.

Thailand’s court ruling Last month, the Thai court ruled that rooms rented out on a daily or weekly basis are illegal based on the decision handed down to Wan Vayla Condo in Hua Hin District of Prachuap Khiri Khan province. People renting out their rooms have not obtained a license to run a hotel business under the 2004 Hotel Act are acting illegally.
District authorities enforcing the hotel act for apartment rentals have increased since 2016 with some Airbnb community members seeking clarification from the home-sharing site on the legal status. However, the crackdown is not particularly focusing on online home-sharing, but rather owners of condos, or apartments, who engage in daily rentals.
While not directly pointing fingers to Airbnb, if the ruling is enforced nationwide, it could endanger Airbnb’s position in the kingdom. Condo owners that let their units to Thai and foreign customers via the app fear that the ruling will no longer allow them to operate their business.
Airbnb has no official comment yet pertaining their company’s standing in Thailand. However, reports claimed that the home-sharing company is meeting with the Thai government to settle the issue and to arrive at a compromise.

Airbnb donate €1.25 million to Community Tourism Programme

Posted by - May 31, 2018

Airbnb has released details concerning the first recipients of its its €5 million Community Tourism Programme. More than €1.25 million has been awarded to 24 community projects from London to Lisbon, Barcelona to Bologna, that use innovation to help promote local customs, preserve unique landmarks, and encourage healthy tourism that makes communities stronger.
Speaking at the OECD Conference in Paris, Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, said: “I’m excited to see our community and partners continue Airbnb’s tradition of using travel and innovation to make communities stronger.
“We’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the response to the Community Tourism Programme, and by the positive actions underway across the continent to retain the cultures, traditions and landmarks that make Europe’s diverse communities unique. To these innovators, I say that we are proud to support and invest in the valuable work you do.”
Highlights from the first round of funding allocations include:
Putting An Outer Borough on the Map: Airbnb help support cultural and hospitality training in Waltham Forest, as part of the London Borough of Culture award.
Celebrating Centenary Year of Women Votes: A collaboration between Airbnb and charity Artichoke which will feature a series of processions and festivals across the UK to celebrate 100 years since women gained the right to vote.
Community Events in Matera, Italy: Matera has been selected as the European Capital of Culture 2019; as part of the city’s preparations for the year ahead Airbnb will join with regional event organisers to help fund Project Fondazione Matera — a range of events and activities for locals and tourists to prepare for the year ahead.
Related Posts Bringing Start-ups to Berlin: Here Airbnb partner with Berlin Partners’ Start Alliance programme to help bring start-ups from across Europe to Berlin.
“Airbnb has a long history of supporting progressive local initiatives that boost communities and bring people together”
Created in 2017 as a way to support different social projects, across Europe, which use tourism in fresh and innovative ways to help build, develop and strengthen community ties, empower community members and preserve regional culture and heritage.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme, which has received more than 300 requests for support, Chris Lehane, Airbnb global head of public affairs and public policy said:
“We have had a lot of success doing one-off projects in Europe and we want to put this in place and take it to the next level. Airbnb has a long history of supporting progressive local initiatives that boost communities and bring people together, and we’re excited to continue that tradition here in Europe.”
Learn more about the Community Tourism Programme here

New Orleans temporarily bans short-term rentals

Posted by - May 29, 2018

New Orleans has hit the pause button on adding more short-term rentals in the city, as the local council conducts further study on the effects of transient accommodations.
The council ordered a freeze on the issuance of licenses for such rentals as well as on the option to renew existing licenses for nine months.
Council member Kristin Palmer, who pushed the agenda before the council, said: “This legislation is a first step towards revising and improving the short-term rental regulations to restore and preserve the residential fabric in historic areas of the city.”
She is backed by a fellow council member who voted for the temporary ban, Joe Giarrusso, who stated that a balance must be achieved and added that the effect of short-term rentals, if there is, on housing prices is particularly of concern.
Prior to April 2017, it was illegal to rent a house or apartment in New Orleans for fewer than 30 days. The council then passed a law in an attempt to regulate the growing number of illegal Airbnb’s in the city.
“I want my neighbours back!” In April, New Orleans City Planning Commission convened affordable housing advocates, residents who rent their properties, and residents who oppose the proliferation of short rentals to hear the effects of short-term rental in neighbourhoods.
Those who oppose the unprecedented growth of Airbnb properties and the like in their local described loud and disruptive tourists renting the homes are taking over their neighbourhood.
“I live in the Marigny. It’s all short-term rentals now. I’d like to have my neighbors back,” said Margaret Walker, a resident of Faubourg Marigny, one of the neighbourhoods with most short rentals.
Related Posts The opposition did not ask for the city to reinstate the ban for short-term rentals, but they cry for tighter regulations saying that the law is “too permissive”.
Airbnb’s appeal Airbnb is unhappy with the decision and claims that the ruling is like being back in square one instead of moving forward.
“The vote flies in the face of the collaborative spirit”
“It is disappointing the city council chose to punish many law-abiding New Orleans residents who depend on home sharing to support their families,” Laura Spanjian, Airbnb public policy director for Louisiana.
“We have worked closely with the city for more than two years to develop and implement fair rules, which provide the city data and tools to enforce the law and millions in tax revenue. The vote flies in the face of the collaborative spirit with which we’ve approached our work with the city,” she added.
Airbnb argued that a vast majority of their hosts are renting their properties to add to their income and to make ends meet. 70% of New Orleans hosts say that hosting has helped them afford to stay in their homes.
The Airbnb short-term rental community has contributed over US$6 million in hotel taxes and fees for the new Neighbourhood Housing Improvement Fund for affordable housing.
The struggle While Airbnb, Homeaway, and Couchsurfing have provided budget-conscious travellers a wide array of options for their accommodation, cities and states are still struggling to regulate the home-sharing market.
Similar to the concerns of residents in New Orleans, homeowners are worried about the change of character in the community. Another problem is the potential to upend landlord-tenant relations. For example, a landlord could try to throw out a tenant in order to charge higher short-term rents to vacationers.
Homesharing businesses, like ride-hailing companies, have some blurred lines and would require an all-inclusive law to touch all areas of concern.

The ‘Airbnb Effect’: home-sharing platform’s contribution to local economy during royal wedding

Posted by - May 28, 2018

As the world watched and got caught up in wedding fever, Airbnb hosts took advantage. The ‘Airbnb Effect’ brought more than £11 million extra income to the local economies of London, Windsor and surrounding areas.
Whereas the ‘Markle Effect’ is more of a fashion statement, with designers from around the world being influenced by what she wears and bringing in about $212 million in retail and apparel sales, the ‘Airbnb Effect’ shows that the ceremony not only helped hosts increase their income but also spread the benefits to local businesses and communities.
“Putting the UK in the spotlight once again”
James McClure, general manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: “The Royal Wedding has provided a welcome tourism boost, putting the UK in the spotlight once again. By creating an opportunity to host visitors from near and far, Airbnb is supporting economic investment into small, local communities and also helping locals to make a little extra money from sharing their homes.”
Related Posts Fans displayed banners and signs along the route of the Royal Wedding in Windsor The royal impact During the royal event, hotels in the UK have capitalised on the Royal Wedding. America had the highest number of visitors in London, while local tourists from the UK took the top spot in Windsor. As for Airbnb, here’s exactly how the weekend impacted its hosts and guests:
Host income – During the Royal Wedding weekend, the typical Windsor host earned 318% more over the same period last year. Guest spending – Guests in London, Windsor, and the surrounding areas spent over £11 million over the wedding weekend. First-time hosts – Windsor homeowners took advantage of the royal event. Data showed 34% of hosts in Windsor were hosting on Airbnb for the first time. Pricing – Prices in the area generally remained affordable in spite of the high demand. A host from London earned an average of £197. Whilst hosts in Windsor earned an average of £353 across the weekend. Airbnb has certainly taken advantage on one of the most popular wedding ceremonies ever – it was watched by an estimated 47 million in the US and the UK alone – but, in a statement from Airbnb’s blog, it said that its goal is to motivate guests to come back again and again through experiences. Through British hospitality, the company will aim to ensure a sustainable and long-term economic impact for the region.

Airbnb works with Nuki to make physical keys a thing of the past

Posted by - April 23, 2018

Nuki, a smart lock innovator, has announced it is working with Airbnb to make locking and unlocking doors easier – and much cooler.
Nuki is one of Europe’s leading providers of ‘retrofit smart access solutions’ – simply put, the company makes devices that turns your smartphone into a door key. The new technology is being introduced to Airbnb, a company which also happens to be a revolutionary when it comes to accommodation solutions.

The Nuki Smart Lock can be easily put on top of existing locks to turn it into an app-based, keyless entry system.
After a quick installation of a Nuki Smart Lock, hosts simply need to log into the online Nuki web platform, link the Nuki Smart Lock to their Airbnb account, and voila, the guest is granted access to the rented home.
“Simplifying life with our products is the perfect match for Airbnb”
“Airbnb is constantly investing in its community to improve the quality and experience for hosts and guests. At Nuki, we believe that our dedication to simplifying life with our products is the perfect match for Airbnb,” explained Martin Pansy, founder and CEO of Nuki Home Solutions.
How it works Once a booking is confirmed with a host using a Nuki Smart Lock, they’ll automatically receive a message mentioning the listing has a smart lock enabled.
A link will be shared, so they can download the Nuki app and use it as a way to lock and unlock the door. The Nuki app, which is available for free on Android and iOS, will then give access, although limited to the duration of the stay.
And for hosts, Nuki provides the option of getting rid of physical key handover ‘ceremonies’. This is perfect for those who want to remain incognito, might be too busy, too shy, or just straight up don’t want to meet in person.

Nuki can also provide 24/7 check-ins and checkouts so that would be a big plus. In addition, individual access permissions can be managed on the app, and a detailed activity log will provide an added sense of security for both guests and hosts.
“The new partnership makes hosting and travelling smarter and more fun than before”
Pansy added: “By facilitating 24/7 check-ins, remote access rights management and keyless access for guests and caretakers, the new partnership makes hosting and travelling smarter and more fun than before. We know that a lot of Nuki users already successfully host with the support of our product portfolio. Convenience and security are of utmost importance for us. Therefore, we believe to be the perfect fit for Airbnb hosts”.