When Airbnb first started out back in 2008, it did so with the aim of completely transforming the way in which people thought about accommodation. And how had people traditionally thought about accommodation? They thought about it in three ways: hotels, self-catering, and B&Bs, and that was it!
So how did Airbnb come about?
Essentially, the guys who started AirBnb had an idea born out of a problem they experienced first-hand…
Living in San Francisco in 2007 (yes, just one year before Airbnb as we know it was born!), they couldn’t pay their rent and out of desperation, decided to rent out three air mattresses on the floor to help them pay their rent.
So, they set up a very simple website, 2 men and 1 woman showed up – paying $80 each for the privilege of renting an air mattress – and after the guests departed they realised that they had stumbled on something genius which could work on a much larger scale.
So what exactly is Airbnb?
It’s a global online marketplace that allows people rent out properties, spare rooms, and all sorts of quirky spaces for that matter, to guests on a global scale.
And with hosts (the Airbnb term given to those who welcome guests to their properties) in over 34,000 cities across 191 countries, it really is about as global as any business can ever be.
But you know what’s really great about it? It’s the fact that it offers value to its customer that is based on the concept of experience, rather than purely on price.
Why? Because, as their mission statement suggests, the whole purpose of Airbnb is to give the sense of feeling that “one day you can feel like you’re home anywhere and not in a home, but truly home, where you belong”.
It’s all about the experience…
What makes Airbnb so appealing, as is the case with all great industry disruptor brands, is the fact that it’s seen as something that is real, authentic, believable, and 100% focused on meeting the specific needs of each and every individual customer.
But you know something else? Airbnb is no longer just about offering room spaces, it’s about encouraging providers to offer holiday experiences – because Airbnb knows that it’s not living spaces that create memories, it’s activities and quirky, fun, alternative experiences.
Understand your audience by giving them more than just a room!
Airbnb experience, though a new add-on to the Airbnb offering, is a great example of a brand that understands the importance of giving more to customers. Why? Because it shows just how in touch with its audience it is when it comes to understanding their needs, their wants, their holiday memories.
But great as this sounds, probably what’s most interesting about this new Airbnb ‘experiences’ app is the fact that it doesn’t actually give anything new in the form of a product: all it really does is help accommodation providers attract more customers just by showcasing some of the many fun tourist attractions / activities the guest can enjoy during their stay with them.
It’s the little extras that matter…
As a hotel, why not learn from this Airbnb ‘experiences’ model (rather than fear it as a competitor), and start communicating better with your customers by understanding that it’s not just a room they’re after, it’s a room with a difference?
I guess what we’re really saying is that instead of being just another “me too” hotel that does the basics well, you should strive to be different by offering your guests useful, practical, exciting service add-ons that your competitors probably haven’t even thought of yet!
Because when it comes to holidays and overnight stays, it’s always the little extras that really matter to guests: and when your guests know that you have gone that extra mile to create memories that they can cherish for years, they will be much more likely to leave positive reviews, generate referrals and become a repeat guests for your business year after year!
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