This week we’re talking about Airbnb’s new city guides feature.

While this seemingly simple feature launch may not seem particularly revolutionary, it may signal a new era and business strategy for the accommodations-sharing giant. As Airbnb accumulates a treasure trove of information from its hosts about the best places for travelers to eat, shop and sightsee, this information may prove to be a strong foundation for a local activities booking platform in the future.

Considering the company is already testing an experiences marketplace in San Francisco, there’s a decent chance this feature will see more activity in the near future. Read on for more of this week’s digital marketing news.

Airbnb’s New City Guides and the Shift Toward Local Commerce
Earlier this week, Airbnb announced a range of new platform features, including a revamped mobile app, a new matching feature that links travelers with neighborhoods and city guides built on host recommendations. While the new features seem relatively mundane at first glance, they also hint at an opportunity to position the company away from simply being a “accommodations sharing” business to one that also competes more directly with companies like Yelp, Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor to help travelers find local activities and attractions. Read more

Facebook Releases New Branded Content Ad Tool and Guidlines 
Just last week, we looked at how many travel advertisers are running afoul of the FTC’s guidelines around native advertising, failing to disclose sponsorship relationships in content like blog posts or Instagram photos. In a little-noticed move this week, Facebook updated its branded content guidelines to help clarify rules around such sponsored posts. In the process the company also rolled out new advertising tools that marketers can use to promote posts from influencers mentioning their brand. Read more

A Look Inside Ryanair Labs, the Airline’s Digital Innovation Hub
More travel companies like JetBlue are experimenting with venture capital funds and startup labs to try and boost innovation within their organizations. Another airline that’s been using digital innovation labs and startup investments is Ryanair, whose Digital Innovation Hub is helping the brand test new initiatives around personalization, CRM and wearables. Read more

How the Airlines Could Improve Communication Around Delays
Like the sun rising every day and gravity, airline delays are regarded as fact of life. But despite efforts by airlines to try and expand estimated flying times, they still continue to be a key source of complaints. According to some experts, the key to successfully dealing with delays is all about how airlines manage passenger expectations at the gate and on the tarmac. Read more

British Train Operator Ramps Up Customer Service on Facebook Messenger
There’s been plenty of hype recently about how travel brands might use messaging apps to deliver customer service and sell products, but little tangible evidence of how the process might work in practice. This week brings a new case study from Britain’s Great Western Railway, which reported it fielded more than 4,700 customer inquiries using Facebook Messenger between December 2015 and March 2016. Read more

Conde Nast Traveler Debuts 2016 Hotel “Hot List” on Snapchat
Conde Nast Traveler is one travel publisher looking to Snapchat to try and boost its readership among younger consumers. This week the publisher launched its widely-read annual Hotel “Hot List” as a 24-hour story exclusively for Snapchat users. Conde Nast Traveler has been ramping up its Snapchat efforts in recent months, granting its staffers and contributors guest access to the company account to post travel dispatches. Read more

 

Photo Credit: Airbnb announced a range of new product features this week, many of which point to the company's increasing interest in local commerce.