Daily Podcast: Airbnb’s Research Gaps

Skift grip

Hello from Skift. It’s Friday, May 27 in New York. Here’s what you need to know about the travel industry today.

Rashaad Jordan

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast explains what digital nomads need from Airbnb, why Oyo paused its IPO and how Sri Lanka’s outgoing tourism chief criticized the structure of the tourism power of the country.

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Episode Notes

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has touted the recent expansion of search categories on his platform as his “biggest change in a decade.” But many digital nomads believe Airbnb still hasn’t met their greatest needs, reports business travel editor Matthew Parsons in this week’s Future of Work briefing.

Parsons writes that Airbnb, despite creating 56 categories, failed to provide search filters for “verified fast Wi-Fi” and a real workspace. Leah Ziliak, a consultant who advises hotel brands, said it can be difficult for users to know the quality of Wi-Fi at properties listed on the platform, largely because many listings don’t contain Wi-Fi speed information.

Ziliak added that while users can see if a property has a dedicated workspace in the amenities section of a listing, potential guests still don’t know what that workspace entails. Ziliak said it could be a stool with a small table or a chair at a desk.

Then India-based budget hotel operator Oyo delayed its long-standing IPO plans due to concerns over a below-average valuation. But the company is still aiming to make its public debut, which could take place in late 2022, reports editor Dennis Schaal.

Schaal writes that factors such as global stock market volatility, a slew of lackluster initial public offerings in India, and a travel resumption delayed by the start of Omicron contributed to Oyo’s decision to delay the IPO in stock Exchange. Oyo decided to put the IPO on hold – for which it initially offered a valuation of $10 billion to $12 billion – after discussions with its bankers, according to a published report. Oyo filed its IPO documents with Indian regulators in late September 2021, but has been in limbo ever since.

But the company has sought permission from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to update its IPO prospectus with new financial results. The board is expected to approve Oyo’s request to update its prospectus within the next two weeks, after which it would likely spend several months deciding whether to approve or reject the prospectus. Oyo would then have one year after regulatory approval to debut on the stock market.

We end today in Sri Lanka. The country’s tourism chief resigned earlier this week under pressure from his new tourism minister, but not before lambasting Sri Lanka’s tourism industry, writes Asia editor Peden Doma Bhutia .

Kimarli Fernando, who resigned as Sri Lanka’s tourism president, denounced, in a strongly worded letter, what she called a cartel of industry veterans. Fernando said in the letter that Sri Lankan tourism leaders did not like his attempt to account for the country’s tourism revenue as well as his willingness to funnel money to hotels with foreign currency loans. She also criticized major tourism organizations for their opposition to the switch to digital marketing, saying that reverting to outdated marketing methods would hurt the island’s competitiveness in the global tourism market.

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