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Marriott is betting on longer vacations becoming the new normal

Outdoor Patio at TownePlace Suites
TownePlace Suites' outdoor patio.
  • Travelers have been booking longer vacations since the start of COVID-19.
  • As a result, Marriott has seen a rising demand for its "longer stay hotel" brands.
  • The hotel chain is now growing these brands' locations and rooms.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Marriott is catering to the COVID-19 trend of longer vacations with a new suite of locations and rooms under its "longer stay" brands.

This desire for extended trips has been growing since people began considering travel again amid COVID-19. And according to a Vrbo survey of 2,200 US-based travelers in December 2020, almost 40% of those surveyed said their next trip would be "at least" a week.

Like other travel providers, Marriott has noticed increasing interest for its "longer stay" hotels, Tina Edmundson, global brand and marketing officer of Marriott International, said in a press release. According to Marriott, this demand stems from both leisure and business travel, with business travelers looking to spend more time out, and leisure "small group" visitors looking for new places to vacation and work remotely.

Now, the hotel giant is looking to capitalize on this travel trend by opening 575 new locations under its "longer stay brands." These Marriott chains - which include Element Hotels, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites - already amount to a combined total of 1,400 hotels.

These long-term oriented offerings mix bigger rooms with extra amenities, including work centers, WiFi, breakfast, and gyms.

Studio Commons at Element Hotels
Element Hotels' studio commons.

Marriott's Element Hotel - which was designed to appeal to the "healthy, active traveler who wants to maintain a balanced lifestyle while on the road" - will now be offering "Studio Commons." This consists of a suite with four bedrooms and a shared living room.

The living room's dining space can also be used as a communal desk for traveling digital nomads.

The Studio Commons rooms will be available at these six locations:

  • Element Atlanta Buckhead
  • Element Nashville Vanderbilt West End
  • Element Sedona
  • Element Moab
  • Element Bend
  • Element Miami Downtown (opening November)

The hotel giant's other longer-stay brand, Residence Inn, currently has 870 locations with suites that feature sleeping, leisure, working, and cooking spaces, among other amenities.

Marriott recently opened Residence Inns in several cities, including Marina del Rey, California, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Upcoming Orlando and Dubai locations are slated to open this month.

One Bedroom Suite at Residence Inn Marina del Rey
Residence Inn Marina del Rey's one-bedroom suite.

Similarly, Marriott is rapidly expanding its TownePlace Suites - a "reliable experience to stay productive and upbeat," according to Marriott - footprint with new recently opened locations in Orlando and Albuquerque, New Mexico. TownePlace currently has 450 hotels under its belt and will be opening two more in Cincinnati and Milwaukee by this summer.

Are you a travel industry employee or have a travel industry story to share? Contact this reporter at [email protected]

Read the original article on Business Insider

Marriott is betting on longer vacations becoming the new normal

Outdoor Patio at TownePlace Suites
TownePlace Suites' outdoor patio.
  • Travelers have been booking longer vacations since the start of COVID-19.
  • As a result, Marriott has seen a rising demand for its "longer stay hotel" brands.
  • The hotel chain is now growing these brands' locations and rooms.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Marriott is catering to the COVID-19 trend of longer vacations with a new suite of locations and rooms under its "longer stay" brands.

This desire for extended trips has been growing since people began considering travel again amid COVID-19. And according to a Vrbo survey of 2,200 US-based travelers in December 2020, almost 40% of those surveyed said their next trip would be "at least" a week.

Like other travel providers, Marriott has noticed increasing interest for its "longer stay" hotels, Tina Edmundson, global brand and marketing officer of Marriott International, said in a press release. According to Marriott, this demand stems from both leisure and business travel, with business travelers looking to spend more time out, and leisure "small group" visitors looking for new places to vacation and work remotely.

Now, the hotel giant is looking to capitalize on this travel trend by opening 575 new locations under its "longer stay brands." These Marriott chains - which include Element Hotels, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites - already amount to a combined total of 1,400 hotels.

These long-term oriented offerings mix bigger rooms with extra amenities, including work centers, WiFi, breakfast, and gyms.

Studio Commons at Element Hotels
Element Hotels' studio commons.

Marriott's Element Hotel - which was designed to appeal to the "healthy, active traveler who wants to maintain a balanced lifestyle while on the road" - will now be offering "Studio Commons." This consists of a suite with four bedrooms and a shared living room.

The living room's dining space can also be used as a communal desk for traveling digital nomads.

The Studio Commons rooms will be available at these six locations:

  • Element Atlanta Buckhead
  • Element Nashville Vanderbilt West End
  • Element Sedona
  • Element Moab
  • Element Bend
  • Element Miami Downtown (opening November)

The hotel giant's other longer-stay brand, Residence Inn, currently has 870 locations with suites that feature sleeping, leisure, working, and cooking spaces, among other amenities.

Marriott recently opened Residence Inns in several cities, including Marina del Rey, California, and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Upcoming Orlando and Dubai locations are slated to open this month.

One Bedroom Suite at Residence Inn Marina del Rey
Residence Inn Marina del Rey's one-bedroom suite.

Similarly, Marriott is rapidly expanding its TownePlace Suites - a "reliable experience to stay productive and upbeat," according to Marriott - footprint with new recently opened locations in Orlando and Albuquerque, New Mexico. TownePlace currently has 450 hotels under its belt and will be opening two more in Cincinnati and Milwaukee by this summer.

Are you a travel industry employee or have a travel industry story to share? Contact this reporter at [email protected]

Read the original article on Business Insider

NFT artists who are making millions on their creations say the craze could permanently change the traditional art world

Bitcoin Angel open edition
Part of "The​ Bitcoin Angel" from Trevor Jones.
  • NFTs have been shaking up the art world, and traditionalists like Christie's have already pivoted.
  • NFT artist Trevor Jones says traditional art markets could become obsolete in the face of NFTs.
  • Mike Winkelmann of Beeple says galleries will end up pivoting to cater to this emerging market.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

NFT art has suddenly dominated headlines across the world, and it's impact on the "traditional" art scene may be here to stay.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are more straightforward than they sound. Basically, a NFT provides blockchain-backed "proof of ownership" on an item that the token is attached to. This could be anything, from the Nyan Cat meme to virtual NBA "moments" to an upcoming album from Kings of Leon.

Mainstream players like Grimes and Mark Cuban are also getting in on the NFT scene.

"I have a feeling it's only going to get a lot bigger!" Trevor Jones, an artist who has an educational background in fine arts with a focus on drawing and painting, told Insider in an interview. "Ride that crypto wave! 

Jones, who has been a full-time artist since 2015, considers himself a "traditional painter," but has been interested in the intersection between art and technology for the past decade, including exploring the NFT art space since 2019.

In homage to his training, all of Jones' NFT work still begins as a traditional "physical" painting. And so far, this formula has been finding him massive success: His artwork has been selling for between $40,000 to $180,000 each, Jones told Insider.

And last month, he sold 4,157 pieces of his "open edition Bitcoin Angel" in seven minutes for $777 each, amounting to a total $3.2 million.

Despite his background of "traditional" art, Jones predicts this wave of NFT artists could defunct the longstanding art market.

"This digital art market is only getting warmed up and it could quite easily take over the $67 billion (physical) art market in the not too distant future," Jones told Insider in an email interview. "The traditional art markets, galleries, and auction houses that don't see this and don't prepare will become obsolete in 10 to 15 years."

tom hanks beating the shit out of coronavirus
Part of "Tom Hanks beating the shit out of coronavirus" by Mike Winkelmann, otherwise known as "Beeple."

Mike Winkelmann - also known as Beeple, a wildly successful digital NFT artist with sales and resales amounting to millions of dollars - thinks galleries will in fact cater to this emerging market.

As Winkelmann explains it, entities like museums and auction houses are "gatekeepers" and curators of the art world. And as the NFT world grows, so will the "noise" that comes with being able "quite cheaply or easily" produce art.

"I still think you're going to want other people to cut through the noise and show them cool things," Winkelmann told Insider. "I really don't think this is going to be the end of galleries or the end of some level of curation."

For traditional galleries, this pivot could be replacing framed artwork with hanging video screens that will display these new digital works, an idea Winkelmann is already exploring.

Sergio Scalet of Hackatao, a pop NFT art duo based in Italy, also believes both curators and art experts will be essential in this emerging scene in order to tell the works' stories. Scalet believes this could create a meeting place between the NFT and traditional art worlds. 

"Probably in the beginning, the traditional art world will be on defense, but as we can see from the creation of many new technologies and apps, the bridge [between the two] is happening," Scalet told Insider. "Maybe these older entities [like galleries] should adapt and find a way to exist in this new space."

And it seems like the traditional art world is already rapidly pivoting. Previously, these works of (often digital) art would have likely been rejected by old, standing art spaces. Now, traditionalists are scrambling to get a piece of the NFT art pie.

For example, in February, Christie's listed Winkelmann's "Everydays: The First 5,000 Days." This will be the famed auction house's first digital art sale and its first auction to accept cryptocurrency, specifically Ether.

The piece was sitting at $3.5 million as of March 5, and the auction is set to conclude on March 11.

"Everydays: The First 5000 Days" by Beeple is up for auction on Christies' website
"Everydays: The First 5000 Days" by Beeple is up for auction on the Christie's website

The general art world's growing receptiveness to digital - and NFT - art is now being noticed by people who've been integrated in the community for much longer.

"No shade, but there's a lot of people [in the traditional art world] who would have never worked with us before we were in the NFT space," Mark Sabb, founder of artist collective Felt Zine, told Insider in an interview. "They're like gallerists and people we looked up to understanding they would never want to work with us, represent us, or really communicate with us deeply at all, who [are now doing so]."

Felt Zine was founded about a decade ago to "give voice" to art that likely wouldn't be embraced by traditional galleries or museums.

Felt, which has always been deeply integrated in the digital art scene, was initially approached by artists who wanted the collective to enter the NFT space. These artists - which Sabb calls "early adopters of NFT" - then began asking Felt for sales representation and "crypto art exhibitions."

Now, the collective is directly seeing the success in this recent NFT art boom: Its month-to-month sales volume has shot up 500% since mid-December 2020, Sabb told Insider.

Felt is also taking the idea of traditional art galleries and applying it to the online community by creating digital galleries and museums to showcase its artists' work.

It's a "new mode of experiencing this art," Sabb says.

Bear Land by Mark Sabb for Felt Zine (2020) NFT art cryptoart
Part of "Bear Land" by Mark Sabb for Felt Zine.

However, Sabb doesn't expect galleries to go defunct if they don't pivot to this NFT boom due to the inherent differences in business models. Also, many collectors still collect both traditional and NFT art, a trend Sabb says will continue to grow.

"I think that artists feeling empowered may change the relationship that they have with some gallerists, similar to the ways streaming impacted the music industry, for good and bad," Sabb said. "But ultimately, we're probably looking at a reality where we have a thriving NFT space while the traditional art galleries continue to sell art the ways they always have."

Sabb also notes that some art is better viewed in a typical gallery, while others fare stronger in a digital gallery space. However, he still has his concerns.

"I think there's a reality where the NFT space can create more pressure for galleries to become increasingly controlling of the artists they represent if we're not careful," Sabb said. "So yes, it can be liberating, but we have to purposely work towards that."

Read the original article on Business Insider

This prefab home maker run by a former Apple exec creates modular family homes for up to nearly $1 million – see how

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes.
  • California-based Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated houses.
  • The homes can accommodate families in urban, suburban, and countryside locations.
  • Greg Leung, CEO of Connect Homes and a former Apple executive, explains how the company works.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

What do Apple, Tesla, and prefab homes have in common? Apparently, a lot if you're prefab home maker Connect Homes. 

California-based Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated houses. While this isn't a new concept, prefabrication is increasingly being considered a potential solution to our housing crisis.

Currently, prefabs can be seen across the spectrum, from homes that can accommodate families to shelters for unhoused people. And recently, several prefab makers - including Plant Prefab, Pallet, Dvele - have seen a boost in public interest and sales.

But unlike other prefab modular home makers, Connect Homes builds its units the same way Apple creates its phones and Tesla manufactures its vehicles: by "understanding every stakeholder and every piece along the journey," Greg Leung, Connect Homes' CEO, told Insider.

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

Leung, who has been Connect Homes' CEO for about half a year, previously spent 12 years at Apple overseeing its global supply chain planning and management. Despite the obvious differences between Apple and Connect Homes, Leung says his experience at the tech giant - and a previous smart home tech startup - has lent itself to turning Connect Homes and the prefab home industry into one that can more frequently produce higher quality houses while using less time and money.

"Imagine you were to approach building a house the way Apple would approach building a product … from an end-to-end standpoint," Leung explained. "By thinking about it from that standpoint, you're able to optimize and make decisions that allow the entire thing to work seamlessly for the end consumer, and for [the process] to actually run efficiently and effectively."

For prefab homes makers, this execution could be the difference between being a niche home builder or a "game-changer" that could replace "traditional construction in many use cases," Leung said.

And for Connect Homes, the goal is to become a key national home builder.

"Prefab has been around for decades, and it has overpromised and under-delivered because prefab in and of itself is not the answer, it's a technique that's used to address the problem [of our housing crisis]," Leung said.

Creating a Connect Home 

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

Connect's rising popularity is undeniable. The company saw the most bookings in its history during the second quarter of 2020. Now, it's looking like this year's first quarter will beat last year's fourth-quarter numbers, and the upcoming second quarter is already on track to surpass this quarter.

Among this influx of orders, there's been a strong mix of requests for homes in urban, suburban, and countryside locations. No matter the destination, Connect's modular units can be delivered across the US using semi-trailer trucks, rail cars, or cargo ships.

All of these homes are built in Connect's California factory using an "assembly-line construction" method. As a result, Connect is able to build a home every six days, while an entire home can be produced in 24 days, according to Leung. When the units are finished, Connect will deliver its homes 90% complete and will install them for its customers using a crane

Compared to traditional houses, Connect's homes are more efficient - in terms of time, money, waste, and carbon - to build "by orders of magnitude," Leung said. This eco-friendly angle can also be seen throughout its homes: Connect's units come with insulation, systems focused on power efficiency, a roof with high solar reflectance, and LED fixtures.

A look inside Connect's most popular home

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

Not all of Connect's customers are first-time homebuyers. In some cases, Connect's clients are city dwellers looking to physically replace an existing home with a new house. Other times, it's homebuyers seeking the "city to countryside" exodus that we've seen throughout COVID-19.

The company has also received inquiries from colder travel hotspots like ski resorts, which benefit from Connect's strong insulation, year-round construction capabilities, and shipment of nearly complete homes.

While Connect doesn't build purely custom homes, the existing models are semi-customizable via different finishes and appliances. There are also different packages - including one for cold weather and another for smart home tech - to further personalize the space.

Connect's units - which sit on steel frames - don't look any different than a typical modern house. The company offers 14 models, ranging from the $202,700 460-square foot Connect 1, to the $997,000 3,200 square-foot Connect 10. It's important to note that these prices include the estimated costs of both the home and "site work." 

Connect's most popular model, the Connect 8, falls closer to the larger model at 2,560 square-feet. The two-story Connect 8 is a "quintessential family home" with its high-ceiling living room and entertainment spaces. The kitchen also flows into the back deck, creating an indoor-outdoor feel.

In total, the almost $814,000 home has three bedrooms and bathrooms. The second floor holds all three sleeping spaces, including the primary bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet. The top floor also has a second bathroom and a laundry room.

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

Heading downstairs, the lower floor holds the living and dining room, a pantry, and a bathroom.

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

All of this is lined with floor-to-ceiling glass windows to bring in as much natural light as possible. 

connect homes prefab homes
Connect Homes' Connect 8 model.

According to Leung, the home's success comes from its "versatile footprint" and its ability to fit in thin but long urban plots of land. 

"It's not your sprawling larger ranch home, which doesn't always fit in urban settings, but it's also equally good in the country," Leung said. "We sell them everywhere."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Southwest Airlines has added new service to 2 hot vacation destinations ahead of the potential summer travel boom

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airline.
  • Southwest Airlines will begin offering new services to Florida and Montana.
  • This includes Florida's Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Montana's Bozeman Yellowstone airports.
  • Southwest has been drastically expanding its flight services since last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines will begin offering flights to Florida's Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and Montana's Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in May ahead of the potential summer travel boom.

Travel, especially by air, dropped significantly in 2020 as COVID-19 first began taking its hold on the US. But now, the travel and hospitality industry is hoping that pent-up demand and the continuing vaccine rollout will lead to a big spike in travel this summer. 

As a result, companies are gearing up for this potential boom, including Southwest Airlines. In the last year, Southwest has dramatically expanded its flight offerings with new services to locations like Palm Springs, California, Cozumel, Mexico, and Miami.

Now, the airline has added additional flights to two travel hotspots: Florida and Bozeman, Montana.

Bozeman, Montana - known as "Boz Angeles" - has become a hot destination, especially for wealthier travelers looking to trade city life for a break in nature. Bozeman also been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and offers close access to hotspots like Yellowstone National Park. 

This will be Southwest Airline's first destination in Montana. Flights to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport will take off from airports in Denver and Las Vegas starting at $40 beginning May 27.

On the opposite end of the climate spectrum, Florida has also emerged as a top travel destination during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its warm weather and more relaxed restrictions. Southwest already flies to 10 other airports in Florida but decided to expand its offerings in the state for "winter-weary families" looking to get away to warm destinations, Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines' executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in the press release.

Direct Southwest flights to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport can be taken starting May 6 from these four airports: Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington, Nashville, and Chicago Midway, the latter starting June 6. These flights will start at $70.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Seabourn’s luxury 140-day world cruise that costs at least $67,000 is selling fast – see what the 2023 trip will be like

The Seabourn Sojourn.
The Seabourn Sojourn.
  • Seabourn opened bookings for its "2023 World Cruise: Extraordinary Discoveries" trip on February 12.
  • The 140-day cruise will bring passengers to 61 destinations across 32 countries.
  • Some suites have already sold out, and demand is up compared to Seabourn's 2020 to 2022 world cruises.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Customers are scrambling to book Seabourn's 2023 world cruise after the luxury cruise line debuted the 140-day trip earlier this month.

Seabourn Cruise Line - owned by Carnival - first began accepting bookings for its "2023 World Cruise: Extraordinary Discoveries" on February 12. Since then, the cruise's penthouse spa and premium suites have sold out, a Seabourn spokesperson told Insider in an email statement.

And now, the cruise line is seeing more demand for the 2023 world cruise than it saw for its 2020, 2021, and 2022 world cruises from the same selling cycle.

This high demand for Seabourn's future cruise signals a potential wider trend in travel. World cruises could become more popular after the COVID-19 pandemic is over because of pent up demand for travel. Similarly, when Oceania Cruises debuted its 2023 world cruise starting at $41,600 per person on January 27, the 180-day trip sold out within a day.

"Despite the challenges the world faces today, travelers are clearly bullish on the future and are embracing these new opportunities to travel the world," Bob Binder, president and CEO of Oceania Cruises, said in a statement after its 2023 global cruise sold out.

Keep scrolling to see Seabourn's 2023 sailing and some of its global destinations.

Seabourn's global cruise aboard the Seabourn Sojourn will be setting sail from Miami, Florida on January 6, 2023.
The Seabourn Sojourn.
The Seabourn Sojourn.
The cruise will then bring passengers across the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Ocean to its final stop in Barcelona, Spain on May 27, 2023.
Walvis Bay   RF_shutterstock_651783490
Walvis Bay, Namibia.
In total, the 140-day cruise will hit 61 destinations across 32 countries and six continents.
Cape Verde   RF_AdobeStock_232651222
Cape Verde.
These destinations focus on places that "guests are likely not familiar with, but will love being able to explore," Tim Littley, Seabourn's senior director of global itinerary planning and product development, said in the press release.
Conflict Islands, Papua Nnew Guinea   RF_shutterstock_784009291
The Conflict Islands in Papua New Guinea.
In total, the cruise will dock overnight in 10 cities and will have extended stays at 16 ports.
Seabourn Sojourn_1440x900
The Seabourn Sojourn.
Along the way, cruisers will get to see classic hotspots like Sydney, Australia, Cape Town, South Africa, and Lima, Peru.
Lima, Peru   RF_Getty_79197115
Lima, Peru.
The ship will also stop at "small hidden gems" like the Easter Island, Seychelles, and Papua New Guinea.
RF_ALA_EasterIsland_B8CWKY
The Easter Island.
Does 140 days out at sea seem too long for you? Potential cruisers who can't hang around for the full trip can instead book one of Seabourn's segmented stays for between 21 to 81 days.
RF_ALA_Casablanca_HiRes_CW7AD0
Casablanca, Morocco.
However, guests who book the full cruise will receive a list of perks, including unlimited laundry and internet.
Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain.

Source: Seabourn

Rooms aboard the 229-suite ship start at $67,000 for an ocean view suite. This price then skyrockets to $190,000 for a stay in the owner's suite.
Seabourn OSQ   OWNER SUITE
The Owners Suite.

Source: Seabourn

The ship has several amenities to keep passengers entertained while out at sea, including a card room, a salon, a gym, a club, and bars.
seabourn sojourn
The Seabourn Sojourn.
And no luxury cruise is complete without a few pools, including whirlpools.
Pool Deck
The pool deck.
Hungry at sea? The Sojourn has several dining options, including an eatery by famed chef Thomas Keller.
Seabourn Quest   The Grill 2016 (30)
Thomas Keller's The Grill aboard a different ship, the Seabourn Quest.
Seabourn also debuted another 2023 sailing - the 49-day "Grand Voyage: Grand Americas, Amazon, and Antarctica" - the same day as its world cruise.
100138TYS43_Sojourn_G7_300
The Seabourn Sojourn.
These sailings may seem far into the future, but planning for 2023 was a strategic move.
AerialSojourn279
The Seabourn Sojourn.
Many Seabourn customers have been asking for cruising options "further into the future," Josh Leibowitz, president of Seabourn, said in the press release.
Seabourn OSQ   AftPool
The aft pool.
"With the 2023 World Cruise and Grand Voyage, we open options well into 2023 for future planning," Leibowitz said in the press release.
Dravuni Island, Fiji   RF_Alamy_F70NHX
The Dravuni Island in Fiji.
Read the original article on Business Insider

Airbnb reports a Q4 revenue of $859 million, surpassing analyst expectations despite its ‘frenzied’ IPO and COVID-19

AirBnb
Airbnb.
  • Airbnb on Thursday reported $859 million in Q4 revenue, surpassing analyst expectations.
  • Airbnb saw a "frenzied" IPO in December 2020 and weathered a battered travel industry amid COVID-19.
  • Better days may be ahead for the platform as pent-up demand for travel remains high.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Airbnb beat analyst expectations in its Q4 earnings report on Thursday despite a tumult ous IPO and COVID-19, which has weathered the travel industry.

Airbnb reported $859 million in Q4 revenue, down 22% compared to $1.1 billion in 2019. However, it still surpassed analyst expectations, which projected a Q4 revenue of $747.6 million, according to Yahoo Finance. During this time, Airbnb saw 46.3 million booked nights and "experiences," amounting to a gross booking value of $5.9 billion.

The platform had originally predicted a revenue decline in 2020 compared to 2019 due to COVID-19. As a result, last year, the platform brought in $3.4 billion, which is 30% less than its 2019 revenue of $4.8 billion.

"Our performance in 2020 showed that Airbnb is resilient and inherently adaptable," Brian Chesky, Airbnb's CEO, said in the press release. "Travel is coming back and we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound."

In December, the company saw a highly anticipated but wildly "frenzied" IPO that left its CEO Brian Chesky speechless ahead of its debut and the company with a $2.8 billion expense. As a result, Airbnb registered a GAAP loss of $3.9 billion in Q4 2020, and $4.6 billion in 2020.

The platform is still riding out the COVID-19 storm that ultimately decimated the travel industry, although it still fared better than many of its competitors. But things may be looking up for the home rental platform as vaccine rollout continues across the US and pent up demand for travel continues to stay steady.

Now, Airbnb's main priority for this coming year is to prepare itself for the impending return of travel.

"As the vaccine is rolled out and restrictions lift, we expect there will be a significant travel rebound. Our single priority in 2021 is to prepare for this travel rebound, perfecting our existing product by improving the entire end-to-end experience of our core service for both Hosts and guests," the company said in a statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider

These are all the cruise lines that will require COVID-19 vaccinations for guests and crew

norwegian epic cruise ship
The Norwegian Epic.
  • The return of cruising still remains in limbo for many cruise lines.
  • Companies including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian have announced vaccine requirements.
  • These are all the cruise lines that have COVID-19 vaccine requirements for guests or crew.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Several cruise lines have started announcing vaccination requirements for guests and crew members as the industry looks to restart after the the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, cruise ships that were mid-trip began facing COVID-19 related turmoils as the virus began trickling around the world, leaving passengers stuck, infected, or dead. Shortly after, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order, which was later replaced by its "Framework for Conditional Sailing Order," a compilation of protocols needed for cruising to resume again.

Despite this new framework - and pent-up demand for highly anticipated cruise ships and trips - the official return of cruising still remains in limbo. Presently, no major US cruises will be welcoming passengers until May, but companies are constantly extending this pause on sailing.

However, as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed across the globe, this could soon change.

"If we start to see vaccines become more widely available, and if the vaccines are being administered in a far more efficient manner than they have been, I think it would be reasonable for the cruise lines to say a vaccine is required," Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of the Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider in an interview.

However, vaccine rollout and accessibility has been a notorious struggle around the world. As a result, Harteveldt notes that it may be "counterproductive" for major cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian to require its guests to receive the vaccine if sailings actually resume in the next few months instead of later in the year, say July.

But over the last month, cruise lines have become increasingly vocal about the vaccine. While some companies - such as Carnival and its Holland America line - are "reviewing" the different vaccines, several others have already announced vaccination protocols for guests and crew members.

These are all the cruise lines with vaccine-related mandates so far:

Saga Cruises

GettyImages 1228287632
Saga Cruises.

On January 21, United Kingdom-based Saga Cruises announced that it would require all of its passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks before a trip. Saga primarily caters to passengers over 50-years-old.

Royal Caribbean

Wonder of the Seas cruise ship Royal Caribbean
The Wonder of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean expects to require its crew members to receive the vaccine before sailings return, a spokesperson told Insider.

Crystal Cruises

Crystal Symphony
The Crystal Symphony.

On February 18, Crystal Cruises said it would require guests to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before a cruise. The cruise line is also requiring a negative coronavirus test result from travelers and crew members, among other health protocols.

"We know that peace of mind is the greatest luxury, and the vaccine requirement is simply the best way to ensure the safest possible Crystal Experience for all on board," Jack Anderson, the cruise line's interim president and CEO, said in a press release.

Hornblower Group's "overnight" cruise lines

Victory Cruise Lines
A Victory Cruise Lines' ship on the Georgian Bay

Hornblower Group's American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines have both announced requirements for guests and crew members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for sailings starting July 1.

According to John Waggoner, CEO and founder of American Queen Steamboat Company, requiring the vaccine will ensure the "safest cruising experience possible." However, the cruise lines is are still looking to resume sailing in April, prior to this vaccination deadline. 

Norwegian Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises

norwegian epic cruise ship
The Norwegian Epic.

Norwegian Cruise Line and its Regent Seven Seas Cruises have announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for crew members prior to boarding. However, the cruise lines are still "exploring all options" in regards to vaccination requirements for its guests, according to the cruise lines' statements sent to Insider.

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Los Angeles has created a colorful prefab tiny home village for the city’s unhoused population – see inside

Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
  • Lehrer Architects and Los Angeles' Bureau of Engineering designed a new village of tiny homes.
  • The 39-unit Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village was created to house LA's unhoused population.
  • Prefabricated homes are increasingly being used to address the homelessness crisis in the US.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A once "forgotten" corner in North Hollywood, California, has been given a colorful makeover to house Los Angeles' homeless population using prefabricated tiny homes.

The process of creating a prefabricated home in a factory or warehouse naturally lends itself to be more economical, eco friendly, and speedier than building a traditional home. As a result, prefabricated units are increasingly seen as a potential solution to both the US' inaccessible housing market and the homelessness crisis caused by natural or personal disasters.

To the latter point, several companies are now building prefabricated tiny homes to house the unhoused, including Washington-based Pallet, which creates housing units that can be setup in 30 minutes.

Pallet's tiny homes are now being used throughout the country, including at Los Angeles' new 39-unit Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village, a community of tiny homes designed to alleviate Los Angeles' homelessness crisis.  Keep scrolling to take a tour of the village, which was designed by Lehrer Architects and the city's Bureau of Engineering.

This colorful village is a first in Los Angeles, and provides the city's homeless citizens with "a sense of community and dignity," Gary Lee Moore, a city engineer and general manager of the Bureau of Engineering, said in a statement.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
The village was built in 13 weeks and is now considered the "centerpiece" for temporary - or bridge - shelters.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Los Angeles officials, residents, and the public are now "embracing" this new village, Michael Lehrer and Nerin Kadribegovic, Lehrer Architects' founding partner and partner, respectively, told Insider in an email interview.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
It's hard to imagine what else could have occupied this recently completed space, which sits on an angular teardrop-shaped infill lot.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
The idea to fill the awkwardly shaped lot came when city officials began scouting for locations to build "bridge" homes.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
There are obvious construction and design issues that may arise from working on such an oddly shaped lot.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
But luckily, the prefab units are small and configurable, allowing them to occupy otherwise difficult spaces.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
The beta project's shelters now "add real value" to the once vacant lot, according to Lehrer Architects.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
The village's 39 prefabricated Pallet shelters can accommodate up to two people.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Pallet began building these shelters for people without homes to create a "dignified" housing option outside of community shelters, Amy King, founder and CEO of Pallet, told Insider in January.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.

Source: Insider

To create this sense of dignity, the shelters have similar amenities to any home, such as beds, shelves that can be used as desks, and a designated phone charging area.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
The units are also lockable and have air conditioning and heaters for extra safety and comfort.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
"Achieving this level of privacy and security is not possible in a traditional shelter," Kadribegovic and Lehrer told Insider. "The evocation of a child's drawing of a 'house' and even Monopoly's homes reinforces the idea of 'home.'"
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Besides these tiny homes, the village also has amenities that address general necessities, including restrooms, showers, laundry facilities, common spaces, and areas for pets.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Obviously, the most eye catching part of the village is its colorful paint job.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
This color pop was intentional: it's an inexpensive design idea that unifies the village while providing the "uplifting effect of a 3D painting," according to the architecture firm.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
However, the bursts of color don't consume the entire village.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Most of the shelters are white, and color was strategically added to make the village feel more like a community, according to Kadribegovic and Lehrer.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
In total, Lehrer Architects had a $3.49 million budget for the project, but the colorful collective of homes wasn't the most expensive component of the new village.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.

Source: Lehrer Architects

Foundational work, such as sewer line extensions and street leveling, became the project's biggest cash guzzlers.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
Moving forward, prefab shelters may become the key to creating more communities like this in the near future.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
According to Lehrer and Kadribegovic, a prefab unit's speedy setup time is key, especially amid the booming homelessness crisis.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
As a result, Lehrer Architects is now building another 103-unit village nearby, and is planning a third in a different part of Los Angeles.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
"Respect and dignity in design can go a long way in helping folks find their footing and start in a new chapter in their lives and the lives of every citizen in the city." Kadribegovic and Lehrer wrote.
Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village
The Chandler Boulevard Bridge Home Village.
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MSC Cruises’ newest ship will have a robot bartender that can make any drink you want – meet Rob

MSC Starship Club rob robot bartender
Rob the robot bartender.
  • MSC Cruises' new MSC Virtuosa ship will feature Rob, a robot bartender.
  • Like any human bartender, Rob can create custom drinks or one of its 16 signature cocktails.
  • The spaceship-inspired bar and its robot bartender took almost six years to create, MSC said. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

We've seen robot smoothie makers, hamburger flippers, and salad crafters. Now, MSC Cruises has unveiled Rob, a humanoid robot bartender.

Many cruise lines may have hit the pause button on major sailings, but that's not stopping them from designing innovative features that will be showcased on trips once the industry gets back to full steam. This includes MSC Cruises, which created Rob for its newest Virtuosa ship. 

The animatronic mixologist will be stationed in the Virtuosa's MSC Starship Club and MSC Starliner One, the new ship's spaceship-inspired bar. 

Rob's conception came from the desire to use new technology to create a novel onboard space, specifically a "futuristic immersive entertainment lounge," according to the cruise line. And nothing says "futuristic" like a robot bartender working in a space decorated with holograms and digital art.

MSC Cruises has been creating Rob and the MSC Starship Club for almost six years, well before COVID-19 and the resulting emphasis on contactless amenities.
MSC Virtuosa
The MSC Virtuosa.
To create the unique space, the cruise line worked with people specializing in interior design, robots, automation, and "entertainment and digital experience."
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
Just like any human bartender, Rob will be in charge of creating both boozy or non-alcoholic beverages, whether it be one of its 16 signature cocktails or a personalized drink.
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
Guests interested in a Rob-made cocktail can order their drinks at a "digital cockpit." Rob will then prepare every component of the order - from pouring to garnishing - using some of its over 40 ingredients.
MSC Cruises' robot bartender
MSC Cruises' robot bartender.
The cocktails will be served in souvenir glasses. If you're feeling impatient, you can check the status of your order using the "ticker-tape-style" LED monitor above the bar.
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
Rob can also interact with the its patrons with its expressive face and a conversation.
MSC Starship Club rob robot bartender
Rob the robot bartender.
Rob can speak eight languages, allowing international patrons to order and converse with the robot in their preferred language.
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
The robot's personality also changes in response to its surroundings, according to MSC Cruises.
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
Besides Rob, the bar will also feature an interactive 12-seat table that lets patrons "explore space." All of this can be experienced on the MSC Virtuosa, which will be setting sail in April.
MSC Starship Club
The MSC Starship Club.
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