Pillow Talk#4: Cultural shifts, Roami, pet peeves and Everything Everywhere (AI)

Pillow Talk is where Abode Worldwide’s founder and CEO, Jessica Gillingham shares musings, learnings and insight about the pioneering lodging technology brands and operators transforming the way we work, rest and play. To receive Pillow Talk directly to your inbox, you can subscribe here.

Popping into my inbox this morning was this TechCrunch feature on Sextant Stays’ funding round and rebranding to Roami. Getting the press to cover a rebrand story is difficult but possible, teamed with a great story angle and funding news. Roami is an inspirational STR story and, in many ways, the perfect example of a new breed of lodging specialists, no doubt strengthened by having ex-Lyric and Stay Alfred founders on board as advisors.

The feature discusses Roami’s vision of taking on the $3trillion industries of hospitality, residential management and real estate — plus the headline grabbing ambition to take on Airbnb.

The cultural shifting of brand, marketing and sales

What’s also so interesting to me is the understanding from Roami that building a brand means focusing on culture and community, and connecting with customers. It means creating flexibility to meet the needs of the customer. In this case, it means giving customers complete freedom over length of stay, so guests are effectively going on vacation and living in exactly the same way.

Hospitality, living and lodging are changing. We are witnessing seismic cultural shifts, which must also feed into the sales and marketing of operators. Being able to read the room, see beyond the horizon, connect communities, and develop narratives that buyers connect to is increasingly driving change.

Other news on the merging of lodging was Blueground’s purchase of Travelers Haven. This story went a little under the radar but it’s another example of the worlds of corporate travel, short-term rentals and flexible living all merging.

AI and Everything Everywhere

The movie that is capturing the imagination of the film awards season this year is Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s a fitting analogy of where we are with many things right now. But especially AI and the lodging/travel industry.

The potential impact of AI on business, customer experience, search, jobs, creativity, innovation and knowledge is now ‘everything and everywhere’. Rafat Ali, Skift’s founder, and CEO, has been sharing his ideas on the potential impact AI will have on search and bookings, which I’d recommend checking out.

The Travel Tech Essentialist

If you don’t already follow Mauricio Prieto’s newsletter, The Travel Tech Essentialist, I suggest you do. It’s focused on travel tech rather than lodging or hospitality, but it’s a fantastic round-up of the stories and companies moving the needle. This last week, he talked about the difference between a good and great founder and the unlikely beneficiaries of inflation.

My pet peeve is International Women’s Day

There’s one day of the year that gets my goat. And it’s today. With all the marketing guff that swamps LinkedIn, the real issues are in danger of being made invisible. No amount of virtue signalling will impact the things that truly matter.

Only 8.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Female founders raised just 2% of venture capital money in 2021. The gender gap in pay has remained pretty much the same in the US for the last 20 years or so, with women earning 82% of what men earn on average. In the UK, it’s a little better, with a gap of 8.3% for full-time employees.

Vacation rentals, Melissa McCarthy and the Super Bowl

Striking a different note to the advertising campaigns of Airbnb (community) and Vrbo (family), Booking.com went all out at the Super Bowl with Melissa McCarthy focusing on the variety of vacation rentals and experiences. This angle made great sense and showcased the huge range of options available to guests. The ad was also the most watched at this year’s event. Well done Booking.com — made me smile anyway.

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