Airbnb’s AI-Driven Revolution

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Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Airbnb’s next phase, Lindblad’s full cabins, and Lufthansa’s optimism.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, May 4. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Airbnb is on the cusp of an artificial intelligence-driven revolution, with the technology poised to radically transform the company’s operations, it says. So what might change at the short-term rental giant by next year? CEO Brian Chesky explains Airbnb’s plans in an interview with Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali.

Despite recently unveiling a series of launches yesterday at its annual May product update event, Ali writes Airbnb hasn’t yet announced exactly how it plans to use AI. But Chesky said the technology will be the driving force behind a totally new Airbnb, adding the company would use AI to rebuild its app. Chesky also said that Airbnb would eventually have more AI-augmented customer service.  

Next, cruise line Lindblad Expeditions saw its occupancy rate soar in the first quarter — in large part due to its savvy marketing strategy, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

Lindblad’s occupancy rate hit 81 percent during the quarter, a 15-percentage point jump from a year ago. Company executives expect the figure to continue its rise this year but not fully recover to pre-Covid levels in 2023. Habtemariam cites Lindblad’s substantial  investment in digital marketing as a factor in the company attracting more first-time guests. Lindblad’s marketing in the past primarily included brochures and direct mail to prospective guests. 

Lindblad generated roughly $143 million in revenue in the first quarter, a significant year-over-year jump. The company did record a net loss of about $400,000 during the period. 

Finally, the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest network carrier, is optimistic about a banner 2023. The company expects to achieve record summer revenue this year, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift publication. 

Russell writes travel demand remains robust, Lufthansa expects to get a boost from the rise in premium leisure travel. Although the airline posted a more than $500 million net loss during the first quarter, CEO Carsten Spohr said it’s on the verge of its strongest summer in terms of passenger revenue. Russell writes Lufthansa’s bumper summer forecast isn’t solely the result of torrid demand. Decreased aircraft availability will result in carriers flying less, helping increase airfares. 

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