While April’s major headlines revolved around regulations, lawsuits, and acquisitions, May saw a couple of interesting structural changes to the short-term rental industry. Airbnb, the Expedia Group and the US hotel giant, Marriott, decided that this month of May they may as well make a couple of changes. Let’s review these changes and the other major short-term rental news in May!
Airbnb has appointed Angela Ahrendts, a global leader in the retail industry, to their Board of Directors. Ahrendts has worked with major brands like Apple and Burberry, helping them to improve their customer experience by concentrating more on human connection.
Her background no doubt fits in well with Airbnb’s mission to create a place where everyone can belong everywhere. Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, explains that Ahrendts has “led global brands through transformation, completely redefined the retail experience, and has done it all while putting customers and communities first.” Ahrendts will be their third independent non-affiliated board member.
In order to build a more inclusive world – like the one that Airbnb envisions, you need to ensure that there is trust amongst people. Airbnb’s COO, Belinda Johnson, explains, “Airbnb’s hosts and guests are not a product, they are our community and we have a responsibility to protect their trust.”
So, to meet this need, Airbnb has appointed their first Chief Trust Officer, Sean Joyce. His responsibilities will include to develop and implement strategies that will make sure that Airbnb is one of the most trusted communities around the globe.
Having worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as part of their Cybersecurity and Privacy leadership team, Joyce is no stranger to offline and online safety. He also boasts more than two decades’ experience working with the FBI.
Trust is not the only cornerstone to building an inclusive community. In order to help Airbnb realize their mission, they have realized that they need a diverse staff too. As a result, they have appointed Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt as their new Head of Global Diversity and Belonging. Joining Joyce on Airbnb’s Executive Team, Thomas-Hunt will be tasked with executing their global internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs.
“I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose. Increasing belonging is powerful, compelling and complex to operationalize”, Thomas-Hunt comments. Thanks to her years of experience working at various educational institutions like Cornell University and the University of Virginia to help promote inclusion, equity and diversity, this new role will for sure not be too complex to put into operation.
The Expedia Group has announced that it will rebrand its HomeAway division to Vrbo. Mark Okerstrom, the CEO of the Expedia Group, explained that this move will be in the best interest of the company in the long run.
According to Okerstrom, their immediate goal was not to close HomeAway. Instead, they want to concentrate on a significant percentage of their marketing and other efforts on Vrbo. In an interview with PhocusWire, he said that “consolidating the bulk of our efforts behind the Vrbo brand globally will allow us to maximize our potential in alternative accommodations in the coming years.”
Marriott, one of the leading hotel chains across the globe, has announced that they will introduce their very own luxury vacation home rental division – Homes & Villas. This new subdivision will be based on a trial program that they headed in Europe in 2018.
To help them set Homes & Villas apart from the other vacation rental platforms, each property will be reviewed by one of their pros before it can be included on their platform. What is more, guests will also be able to earn and redeem loyalty points. At this stage, Homes & Villas will only be located in Europe and the Americas.
Airbnb has aired a list of ten destinations that they predict will be sizzling this summer. This Top-10 list has been created in accordance with the destinations that showed the most growth the past year.
The countries with the most destinations are Puerto Rico, with three towns, and China, with two. Other places to have made this list include: Valenciennes in France, Bragg Creek in Canada, Matsudo in Japan, the main capital of St. Martin and the South Korean seaside city of Yeosu.
Interhome, the leading holiday home provider of Europe, has also released its own report with predictions regarding 2019’s summer season. According to Interhome’s report, Spain is still the most popular destination amongst travelers from Ireland and the United Kingdom, while France remains the most popular destination amongst international travelers. Other popular countries include Switzerland, Italy and Croatia.
It has really been a busy month for Airbnb! In addition to their new appointments, Airbnb has also launched a new donations tool to help expand their positive impact on communities.
Thanks to this new feature, hosts can now donate a percentage of their Airbnb earnings to aid communities who need to locate temporary accommodation. This new feature will not replace the Open Homes program. Instead, it is an alternative way that hosts can help in times of crisis. So, if you cannot open your home, you can open your heart by opening your wallet. Currently, it will only be available to hosts in the United States but will become available to hosts from other countries later this year.