Soaring In-Flight Wi-Fi, Airbnb’s Struggling Experiences and U.S. Tourism Impact



Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at the journey of in-flight Wi-Fi, Airbnb’s experience offering struggles, and factors impacting a tourism board’s success.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, May 31. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The market for unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity is set to boom as airlines look to make it easier for travelers to stay connected in the skies. Reporter Ajay Awtaney provides background into the history of in-flight Wi-Fi.

Awtaney writes in-flight internet connectivity has come a long way since what he calls painfully slow service more than 20 years ago. As technology has improved over the past two decades, airlines have used advertising or sponsorship deals — such as a partnership with a streaming service — to make in-flight Wi-Fi more affordable. More carriers in recent years — including Delta Air Lines — have offered free Wi-Fi to members of their loyalty programs. 

In addition, Airbus unveiled in 2022 the HBCplus system, which makes it easier for airlines to provide in-flight Wi-Fi.  

Next, Airbnb hadn’t said much about its experiences offerings amid recent struggles. But the company’s Chief Financial Officer Ellie Mertz has explained what went wrong and how it plans to fix those problems, writes Executive Editor Dennis Schaal. 

When asked at a Bernstein conference why Airbnb experiences hasn’t been a success, Mertz said outside of packaged tours, consumers don’t go to a site and book everything — flights, lodging, cars, etc. — at the same time. 

Mertz also said Airbnb needs to ensure experiences are “appropriately priced” and that proper timing and personalization are keys to a successful experiences product. 

Finally, Skift recently reviewed the pay for more than two dozen top bosses at U.S. destination marketing organizations. However, Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam notes a lot of factors go into the link between CEO pay and the performance of a tourism board. 

Habtemariam reports it’s hard to assess how much credit destination marketing organizations should get for tourism, adding a tourist may visit for reasons unrelated to marketing. 

One place the value is more clear: Meetings and conventions. “They are hugely important. That’s the only organization that can talk collectively with meeting planners,” said Vijay Dandapani, a member of NYC Tourism’s board of directors and CEO and president of the Hotel Association of New York City.

But you can’t paint with too broad a brush. As one former DMO leader told us: “Some of these CEOs are probably underpaid, some of them are probably overpaid,” she said.



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