Travel Tech Essentialist #8: Redefining the Stay

A short newsletter every two weeks with my pick of the top 10 Travel Tech stories and innovations shaping the world’s largest and fastest growing industry.

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In May 2019 I started sending a newsletter every two weeks with my pick of the top 10 news and innovations that I considered most interesting in the travel tech sector. Please see below Issue #8 of the Travel Tech Essentialist. If you are interested in receiving future issues of Travel Tech Essentialist, you can sign up here. Thank you!

The once-clear distinctions between various types of accommodations are becoming more fluid. Blending work travel with leisure is on the rise and has given birth to “Bleisure”, one of the biggest trends in business travel. The always-connected workforce also mixes business and pleasure while on vacation. Private accommodations are providing hotel-like services while hotels are launching alternative accommodation programs. Travelers want to feel at home when they travel, while at the same time trying to experience the destination as a local. And for some travelers, “home” is on the road. As many of the stories in this newsletter show, it’s all about creating memorable experiences and adapting to the changing travel habits of consumers.

1. Oyo wants to build the largest vacation rental business in Europe

  • Oyo will invest $335 million in its vacation home rental business as it looks to expand in Europe. Back in May 2018, Oyo acquired Amsterdam-based holiday rental company @Leisure for $415 million and rebranded it to Oyo Vacation Homes.
  • In the next 6 months, OYO Vacation Homes plans to recruit 1,000 employees across Europe with particular focus on business development, data science and revenue management.

2. What’s next for Google’s expansion into vacation rentals?

Now that Google has integrated vacation rentals into the Hotel Search function, with rental inventory coming up alongside hotels in Google Maps and Search results, Rentals United CEO writes about what’s next for Google and short-term rentals and how future developments could impact property managers, metasearches and OTAs.

3. Big night (and quarter) at Airbnb

On August 10, more than 4 million people spent the night in an Airbnb listing. It was the biggest night in Airbnb history. According to financials released by the WSJ, Airbnb had $9.4 billion in bookings, 30% year on year revenue growth, and 91 million room nights, beating Expedia by 10.2 million room nights in Q1 2019.

4. Innovation in the hospitality industry

My blog post looks at a couple of innovation frameworks proposed by Steven Johnson (author of Where Good Ideas com From) and Chip Conley (Joe de Vivre Hotels, Airbnb). It looks at how understanding what is readily available today and exploring the adjacent possible has led to disruptive innovations.

5. Oyo buys a casino in Las Vegas

Oyo purchased Hooters Casino Hotel Las Vegas at an estimated $135 million. The 657-room property will be renamed Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas after renovations are completed later this year. In the US, Oyo currently has 112 hotels available to customers in 21 states, up from 50 hotels in 15 states at the beginning of July. Oyo claims to be the world’s third-biggest hotel chain, operating 23,000 hotels and 125,000 vacation homes in 80 countries.

6. Airbnb bets big on business traveller

Interesting article on how and why Airbnb is increasing its focus on business travel, a sector predicted to reach $1.6 trillion in revenue globally by 2020. It also looks at Airbnb’s investments in this space, such as its lead investment in the $160 million round for Lyric, a San Francisco-based company that owns and operates short-term rentals designed for the modern business traveller.

7. The US Justice Department sues Sabre

The Justice Department sues to block Sabre’s $360 million acquisition of Farelogix on the grounds that the deal would “eliminate a disruptive competitor, leading to higher prices and reduced quality and innovation” in airline booking. Sabre will fight the lawsuit and stated that the lawsuit reflects a deep misunderstanding of how the industry actually works.

8. New payment platform for travel companies

Ingenico Group launched TravelHub, a solution that gives travel companies access to more than 200 payment methods and 175 currencies, connecting via global distribution systems, property management systems and direct connection.

9. Funding

  • In Travel Tech Essentialist Issue #6 I wrote that Singapore-based RedDoorz had raised $45 million in Series B in May. The budget accommodations platform closed an additional $70 million, bringing the total raised to $145 million since 2015. It has operations in 80 cities in Southeast Asia and operates 1,200 budget hotels and properties.
  • Zhiketong raised a $42.5 million round, bringing total raised to $53 million. Zhiketong is a Chinese SaaS company founded in 2014 that helps hotels build direct sales and marketing channels through WeChat. IHC, Hilton and Ritz-Carlton are clients.
  • Founded in Milwaukee in 2017, Frontdesk develops and manages short-term rental suites in the US for business and leisure guests, providing hotel-style amenities and technology-driven security and services. Frontdesk closed in August a $2.75 million funding round to expand from 270 suites in 13 cities to 500 suites by the end of the year.

10. Promising startups

  • San Francisco based Anyplace offers flexible fully furnished rooms and apartments to digital nomads who move from city to city, want utilities and wifi taken care of, and don’t like to commit to long-term leases. It has properties in major US cities, Canada, Mexico and is expanding into Europe. With a founding team from HotelTonight, Airbnb and Booking, Anyplace raised a seed round of $2.5 million in June.
  • HotelFlex gives hotels a way to generate additional revenue from early check-ins and late checkouts. The London-based startup integrates into a hotel’s property management system to assesses room inventory. It recently raised a $800,000 seed round.

Thanks for reading. If you like this email, feel free to forward it to a friend or colleague. And please reach out with feedback and suggestions.


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