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Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 27 – Airb-N-Bust? What Hotels Can Learn From The World’s Biggest Travel Disruptor

AirBNB seems to be everywhere in the media right now. Will this industry disruptor spell certain doom for the hotel industry, or are there lessons that hoteliers can learn from this innovative start-up that can help them drive more business and build customer loyalty? Let’s all join hands and discuss in this week’s episode of the Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast.

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In The News

Marriott launches first “Laboratory” hotel in Charlotte (Meisha)
http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Hotel-News/Marriott-hotel-in-Charlotte-serves-as-laboratory-for-the-brand

Hilton Recycles Soap
http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/global/154000370/4078793.html

Expedia CEO Wants Travel Virtual Reality To Die
http://www.geekwire.com/2016/expedias-ceo-virtual-reality-travel-hope-fails-miserably/

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Show Notes:

What is Airbnb?

  • Travel booking platform – “Live There. Book homes from local hosts and experience a place like you live there.”
  • Part of “The Sharing Economy”
  • Process:
    • Use App or Desktop site to peruse local accommodation options. Guest enters: “Where to”, “when”, “# of guests”, and completes a search.
    • Easily toggle between list view and map view and apply plenty of other filters to help you find and select the perfect option
    • Do not need an account to browse but do need an account to book (duh) → Create account
    • In order to book, a room can either be “Instant Book” where the host does not have to “approve” the request or there is a delay as the owner approves your request to book.
    • Booker has to take a photo and upload front & back of ID
    • You can read more about this in our Travel App Review Article: http://www.fueltravel.com/blog/travel-booking-app-comparison-review-guide/

AirBNB Statistics

  • >100 million users
  • >34,000 cities in 191 countries
  • >2 million total listings (Marriott/Starwood has 1.1 million total units)
  • >1,400 Castles

What Airbnb is doing right?

  • Super sleek website / app / booking process
  • They make use of user generated content (reviews very present on individual profiles – though you can not filter by reviews)
  • They create a sense of urgency throughout the process (Ex: This is a rare find (with diamond image) Barrett’s place is usually booked!)
  • Exceptional content → Local travel guides, their website covers anything and everything you could want to know about the company (legal issues, booking policies, etc.)
  • Overcome trust / safety concerns and are seen as a travel authority

Concerns about Airbnb?

  • Legal Issues
      • In many states, tenants cannot legally rent out their apartments (or other living space) for short periods (less than 30 days) unless they are also living on the property.
      • Tax issues → Short term rentals are not subject to the same hotel or tourism taxes that hotel pay
      • Safety Issues → Similarly, short term rentals are not subject to the same inspections or held to any certain code of safety like hotels are

Tightening Local Housing Markets

      • Taking long term rentals off the market to make fast cast on short terms rentals… Is Airbnb screwing the locals that make each city great in the first place?
      • Airbnb argues that it is helping support the local economy by helping local property owners make more money → Caveat because property owners in many cases do not actually live in the city and are run by one person who owns multiple units and not the “mom and pop” story they promote
      • Cities like San Fran & NYC are fighting Airbnb HARD.
  • Prejudice
    • Class action lawsuit against Airbnb this summer in VA → Man said Airbnb ignored reports that he was denied a booking because he was black.
      • Set up profile as himself – Was denied
      • Set up fake profile with “white” bookers – Was accepted
      • #AirbnbWhileBlack went viral
    • How can they fix the problem while maintaining guest safety?

Sources: http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/22/technology/airbnb-regulations/ https://skift.com/2016/06/22/figuring-out-the-tech-solutions-to-airbnbs-racial-discrimination-problem/

Travel disruptor?

  • What makes Airbnb different?
    • Traditionally much more affordable than booking a hotel (sorry, hotels…)
    • Can book a private residence, private room, or a shared room
    • Pushing the “local experience” → Hotels are late to the game but are catching up
    • Unique and very personalized experience
      • Interaction with & recommendations from “hosts”
      • Personalized notes and exchanges
      • “Surprise” gifts (slippers, chocolates, coffee, etc.)
  • Completely different than a hotel experience – begs the question: are guests using Airbnb in lieu of booking a traditional hotel? Or would those users have strayed from the “traditional” experience in the first place and have booked with VRBO / Hostel / B&B?

Revolutionizing the travel experience? https://econsultancy.com/blog/68375-airbnb-how-its-customer-experience-is-revolutionising-the-travel-industry/

Is Airbnb a threat to the hotel industry?

Yes and No… *DISCUSS*

What can your hotel learn from Airbnb?

    • Provide a seamless website experience throughout the customer journey → Research to Booking
      • Clean design and impeccable user experience
      • High quality, helpful content → Local guides,
      • User generated content → Genuine reviews, guest shared images, etc.
      • Dedicated mobile app for your hotel (http://www.fueltravel.com/guestexpress-mobile-app/)
  • Get local → Know your area inside and out and be prepared to give great local recommendations.
    • Solicit reviews throughout the experience → On-property and post stay
    • Have a personality & showcase it throughout your website and other marketing materials

The human connection is powerful → Maintain high staff standards when dealing with guests and go above and beyond to surprise and delight with personal touches

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Download the Fuel Leisure Travel Study at www.fueltravel.com/study

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@fueltravel
@stuartbutler
@pforiska
@makavanagh
@marketingmeisha


Submit your questions and topic ideas on Twitter to @fueltravel. Download our leisure travel study at www.fueltravel.com/study/.

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Stuart ButlerFuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 27 – Airb-N-Bust? What Hotels Can Learn From The World’s Biggest Travel Disruptor
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