Just as Airbnb has had a transformative impact on the home sharing and vacation rental business, it hopes to do the same by going beyond just offering stays into offering actual travel activities and experiences to its community. It'll be very interesting to see how they do it.
The company says the tagline was “designed in response to the growing dissatisfaction and disappointment with standardized tourist offerings that have become the hallmark of modern tourism.” Previous taglines from Airbnb have included “Welcome Home” and “Belong Anywhere,” which it still uses. The global campaign, which launched on April 19, features 15-, 30-, and 60- second television spots (see below), as well as digital, out-of-home, and print creative that will be promoted through June in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Korea, China, and Australia.
Airbnb isn’t the first sharing economy company to come up with this type of positioning. Homestay, which is a Dublin-based home sharing company, has been using the tagline “Don’t just visit, live it” for a while now.
Airbnb also updated its app to make the Airbnb experience that much more personalized, and to draw on the strength of its global network of hosts and guests. One of the key new features includes a new “matching system” that takes travelers’ preferences into account, matching them with homes, neighborhoods, and experiences that meet their needs. Neighborhood matching will initially launch in 691 neighborhoods in 23 cities worldwide.
The updated app also has a new Guidebooks feature that includes insider tips from Airbnb’s community of hosts from around the world. The initial launch of this feature will include 3 million tips from hosts in 35 cities around the world. The addition of local tips and experiences, as well as increased personalization in the booking process is a smart move on Airbnb’s part. It represents yet another revenue stream for the company, makes it easier for the company to suggest hots and guests to one another, and also builds upon Airbnb’s marketing messages to provide authentic, local experiences.
When looking for a place to stay using the Airbnb platform, each traveler will now see different results based on their unique preferences and the best match to a host. Based on user’s preferences, Airbnb will reveal the hosts, homes, and neighborhoods that best suit the unique traveler. The app will constantly learn and adapt to the traveler’s preferences for accommodation types, price ranges, and other features.
Guest personalization is an increasing focus for travel brands, especially those in the hotel space, and many hotel companies have traditionally used their hotel loyalty programs to gather information about their guests in order to enhance the overall guest experience. It’ll be interesting to see how Airbnb utilizes the data it has amassed from the more than 80 million people worldwide who have used the platform for their travel, and applies it in this updated app to effectively match guests with hosts and various experiences.
For the past few months, Airbnb has also been testing out an experiences feature allowing its guests to book additional tours, activities, or services when they book a room on Airbnb.
For example, in Paris, guests can pay an additional $29 per person to “Go Out for Drinks With a Parisian” for 2.5 hours in a small group of up to seven, led by a local guide and/or Airbnb host. Other tests have included special meals prepared by chefs or special restaurant reservations, as well as bicycle or gallery tours.
With the new updated app, those local experiences aren’t just confined to the space you may (or may not be) sharing with a local host. Now, they also apply to Airbnb branded activities that extend beyond the confines of the room and into specific activities taking place in that very neighborhood or destination.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television earlier this year, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said, “Our basic idea is: I want you to go to a city; you feel like you live there. When people go to a place, they want much more than just a home. They want to be part of a neighborhood. And what we are really focused on doing is, how can we immerse you into a neighborhood?”
“The No. 1 reason people chose to travel on Airbnb is they want to live like a local,” Chesky said in a statement released today. “They don’t want to be tourists stuck in long lines, fighting with the crowds to see the same thing as everyone else. Our hosts offer more than just generic hospitality — they welcome travelers from around the world into their communities. Today is the start of an exciting journey to help people not just go somewhere, but truly live there.”
To prove its point about traverers’ dissatisfaction with modern tourism, Airbnb recently commissioned an online YouGov poll of 2,307 U.S. adults. Respondents said they felt overwhelmed with the crowds at tourist attractions, equating it to be as stressful as going to the dentist (48 percent) or doing their taxes (52 percent). Only 26 percent of respondents said they felt their last vacation exceeded their expectations.
Airbnb wasn’t the first to enter the home sharing or vacation rental business, but in just eight years, it’s been able to effectively own that accommodation space. Today, “Airbnb” isn’t just the name of a business; it’s become synonymous with the short-term rentals and home sharing. Now, with its latest campaign and updated app, it’s clear Airbnb wants to reinvent a traditional travel sector yet again, and effectively own even more of the overall travel experience.
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Photo credit: Airbnb's newest campaign "Live There" coincides with its release of an updated app that personalizes the user experience and offers tourism services to guests. Airbnb