Several themes emerged in this week’s stories, including the bullish return of short-term rentals and the continued direct booking efforts by airlines and the metasearch sites seeking to serve them. Enjoy.
Vrbo Hitting Its Stride (“Vacation Rental Brand Vrbo Emerges as Expedia Star With Pandemic-Era Bookings,” Jul 6, 2020 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required); “Expedia’s Vrbo vacation rental business sees ‘significant’ growth as travel giant aims to cut costs,” Jul 6, 2020 via GeekWire) For several weeks now, we have featured stories on the purported v-shaped recovery of the short-term vacation rental market. Does such a recovery represent a short-lived phenomenon or a seismic shift in travelers’ accommodation preferences in the post-COVID world? It is probably too early to tell, but Expedia’s announcement this past week only adds to the debate. Last Monday, Expedia reported that its rental platform Vrbo had increased its gross bookings year-over-year in the months of May and June. Expedia attributes Vrbo’s success to the platform’s largely whole-home inventory in drive-to destinations, which only months earlier had been viewed by many in the industry as a weakness. Vrbo’s success took place a month before Expedia began consolidating its two major rental platforms – Vrbo and Homeaway. Despite Vrbo’s success, gross bookings across the Expedia family of brands were down 45 percent in June (which is an improvement over the 85 percent decline experienced in March and April).
Expedia Expands Cryptocurrency Options (“Expedia In Deal With Travala.com To Add Crypto Payment Option,” Jul 6, 2020 via RTT News – Top Stories) This past week, UK-based travel booking platform Travala.com announced that it had struck a deal with Expedia Group to make available Expedia’s 700,000 hotels and accommodations to users of the crypto-friendly platform.Travelers can now book and pay for Expedia accommodations using one of the 30 cryptocurrencies used by Travala (including Bitcoin). The Expedia partnership comes seven months after Travala and Booking.com announced a similar distribution relationship.
Singapore Adds Global Distribution System Surcharge (“What a New Surcharge From Singapore Airlines Could Mean for Other Carriers, Jul 6, 2020 via Skift) (subscription may be required) Although the effects of such a change on other longtime users (e.g., domestic airlines or even possibly, hotels) of the traditional global distribution systems remain unclear, Singapore Airlines’ recent announcement ofimposing a $12 per booking surcharge on global distribution system (GDS) bookings (beginning in January 2021) could be a game changer. Bookings made through Singapore’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) channel will not be subject to the surcharge. Although Singapore isn’t the first airline to institute a GDS surcharge (several European airlines have already implemented similar surcharges), it is one of the first Asian airlines (after Qantas) to do so. The surcharge is part of Singapore’s larger objective to make the information and functionality available to users on its own platforms available to its travel partners. More to follow…