Wednesday Briefing: Is Airbnb Targeting Flights?

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Airbnb’s reported flight tool, Ken Muskat leaving MSC Cruises and Carnival Corporation’s fourth quarter earnings are the travel industry headlines to watch today. 

Is Airbnb Targeting Flights?

Here’s another bit of competition to keep an eye on: Airbnb is continuing to step up its plans to expand beyond vacation rentals with the development of a new tool for flight bookings, according to a report by Bloomberg. Development of the new feature is still early, and the company may opt to acquire an online travel agency or license data from a provider like Amadeus or Sabre. At the same time, sources familiar with the project told Bloomberg that the company would like to get the new feature off the ground before the company makes an initial public offering, which could happen in the next 18 months. 

If it goes forward, the move would not be the first Airbnb has made to expand out of the vacation rental business for which the company is most famous. In November Airbnb announced a new Trips platform, which offers local hosts the chance to offer activities like a Samurai Swordplay workshop or the chance to drive classic cars in Malibu, or chances to give back to local communities, like a behind-the-scenes program at the Downtime Boxing Gym in Detroit, as well as Insider Guidebooks spotlighting top areas to check out in a given destination. 

At launch the launch of Trips 500 Experiences are available in 12 cities worldwide, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Havana, London, Paris, Florence, Nairobi, Cape Town, Tokyo and Seoul, with the option for Airbnb hosts in an additional 39 cities to request to list their Experiences. 100 Insider Guidebooks are available at launch in six cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Havana, Nairobi, Detroit and Seoul - with more planned to launch soon.

Ken Muskat to Leave MSC Cruises

In cruise news, Alyssa Goldfarb, director of public relations, MSC Cruises USA, has confirmed to cruise editor Susan J. Young that Ken Muskat, the line’s EVP of sales, public relations and guest services, is planning to leave the company at the end of the year “to pursue a new opportunity.” 

Muskat, who is also chairman of CLIA's trade relations committee, told us the "announcement on where I am going will be coming." Stay tuned for further updates.

Carnival Corporation Posts Record Earnings

Finally, as the year winds down cruise companies are taking stock of the last quarter, and things are looking good for Carnival Corporation. In its fourth quarter earnings report the cruise company announced the most profitable year in the company’s history, as well as record fourth quarter earnings, with a GAAP net income of $2.8 billion for 2016 (up from $1.8 billion in 2015) and GAAP net income of $609 million for Q4 2016 (up from $270 million year over year). 

This year’s fourth quarter saw the U.S. debut of the new Carnival Vista for Carnival Cruise Line and the Koningsdam for Holland America Line, as well as the delivery of Seabourn’s new Seabourn Encore. Additionally, in October the company began airing three new original TV series on Saturday mornings on ABC, NBC and the CW in the U.S. aimed at highlighting cruise travel. 

Looking ahead to 2017, Carnival Corp. said that cumulative advance bookings are up and at higher prices. 

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