We have entered an era of digital disruption. Every industry is feeling it, especially the hospitality industry. Just as Uber became the biggest threat to taxis without owning a single car, Airbnb is becoming the biggest name in the hotel industry without owning a single hotel. What does this mean? The biggest competition to your hotel isn’t even a hotel.
Airbnb is growing at an astounding rate. But why? It might be because consumers are taking travel (and most major life decisions) into their own hands. Travelers, and especially Millennials, cannot justify paying retail price when booking hotels because they know they will receive a standard experience, so they’re constantly looking for newer, more unique alternatives. Airbnb took advantage of this opportunity and redefined the hotel industry in the process.
There are some incredible user experience tactics you can take from this growing industry disruptor to ensure that your property remains competitive. Here are our top three:
Increase Exposure with a Compelling Online Presence
Airbnb provides a massive searchable database of potential destinations, and customers can filter results based on specific needs. Each Airbnb listing is promoted in front of a massive, engaged target audience right on its website, showcasing the listing through detailed descriptions and beautiful photography. Airbnb listings include trusted, unbiased customer reviews which eliminate any financial risk and break any purchase barriers. In other words, Airbnb has mastered transparency to the benefit of both hosts and guests.
Hotels can take a page from Airbnb’s book by increasing property exposure through a compelling online presence. Make sure your hotel is being promoted on relevant websites, such as TripAdvisor for transient business and theCvent Supplier Network (CSN) for group business. Showcase your property through current photography and detailed property information. Additionally, hotels can tap into guest-genereated content, such as social media photos or posts, to add a new viewpoint into the property beyond professional photography while increasing transparency. By building and updating your property’s online presence you will ensure that your hotel is top-of-mind for prospects.
Personalised Travel Experiences
Airbnb hosts put the guest at the heart of the experiences they offer, often allowing guests to customize and tailor their experiences. Today’s traveler desires unique experiences, and a study by Yahoo showed that 78 percent of consumers are looking for personalization in their consumption. Hotels often offer similar experiences to each guest, with standard room designs and packages that have mass-appeal.
However, hotels have an opportunity provide unique, customized experiences to guests by getting creative like Airbnb hosts. Examples include purchasing a lot of bikes for guests to borrow and explore the area, or by offering property or city-specific amenities such a local foods or coffee in guest rooms. Hotels can also aggregate lists of truly local attractions and places to see, beyond traditional touristy favorites, or take a group of guests on an active and guided running tour of the city. Because hotels have traditionally taken a one-size-fits-all approach to guests’ stays, hotels have a great opportunity to make memorable and lasting impressions upon guests by fostering unique experiences.
Even though customers are looking for more value per dollar spent, they’re willing to pay more if the value is justified. Airbnb succeeds at offering a variety of accommodations at different price points. Those listings on the more expensive end tend to provide added value, such as amazing city views, rooftop decks, free champange, and more. The primary purpose of these “added value” features is to make the guest feel appreciated and valued.
Hotels that are more expensive can compete with these types of perks by providing added value options such as free club access to guests who pay a specific rate, or a free cocktail hour for elite guests. Hotels can also create unique packages and reward repeat guests with creative amenities to add value to guests’ stays.
Though Airbnb is disrupting the hotel industry, hotels still have opportunities to remain competitive by mimicking user experience tactics used by Airbnb. The primary way hotels can do this is to ditch the one-size-fits-all guest experience approach and strive to create unique guest experiences that are both valuable and memorable.