Airbnb to Launch Host Protection Program
Scheduled to launch in the US on January 15, 2015, Airbnb’s Host Protection Program will insure its hosts and landlords against personal injury suits filed by guests. Airbnb is a company that connects homeowners with those looking for a vacation home, similar to VRBO or HomeAway. Obviously, a personal injury lawsuit could get pretty convoluted when dealing with multiple landlords and guests, so Airbnb is showing some goodwill by offering this protection for all parties who utilize their service. While they’re working on expanding Host Protection to other countries, for now, the program will only be available to US listings.
Amazon dropped bomb on the hotel industry this week by announcing their plans to launch their own OTA dubbed, Amazon Travel. The initial rollout will include a selection of hotels near New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. According to this skift article, properties would provide room types, pricing and availability to Amazon, and Amazon would receive 15% commission on bookings made through their system. I expect that the Amazon brand will draw lots of interest from hoteliers in smaller markets, and Amazon Travel will get plenty of participation when they decide to roll this out elsewhere.
Hilton and Marriott Now Charging Last Minute Cancellation Fees
Hotel giants, Hilton and Marriott, have recently decided that they will now charge last minute cancellation fees. Some hotels already have these fees in place but now that two industry leaders have jumped on board, expect many to follow suit. With new apps like Hotels Tonight, it’s becoming easier for these hotels to fill rooms after last minute cancellations. On top of amenity fees, Wi-Fi fees, etc., these new fees are just another way for hotels to increase their “ancillary” revenue.
Snapchat and Square Cash Introduce Snapcash
Snapchat is jumping into the p2p payment game by partnering with Square Cash to create Snapcash. Users can enter their debit card information and send cash as easily as a text message. You’ll simply type “$” and a dollar amount and Snapchat will recognize it as a Snapcash payment and enable a green button with dollar sign. Just select the person you wish to send money to and it will instantly be in their account. It is expected that in the future snapchat will allow users to purchase items directly from the app so businesses will probably start trying to build their Snapchat following pretty quickly.
Google To Lease Moffet Airfield From NASA
No, it’s not just for Larry and Sergey’s jets. Google is leasing Moffet Airfield for the next 60 years so it can build an education facility where the public can learn about the site and all of the technology breakthroughs from Silicon Valley. They will be investing over $200 million to renovate the property and essentially construct their own advanced research center, which will focus on space exploration, aviation, robotics and probably some stuff we haven’t even thought of yet. While the facility will now focus on education and advancements, Google is also required to ““rehabilitate and maintain the historic integrity of Hangar One and the Shenandoah Plaza Historic District.”