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By Gilad Berenstein

Today’s traveler is digitally savvy and wants to be inspired by destinations and authentic experiences throughout the entirety of their travel lifecycle. Airbnb was one of the first to notice this macro-trend and capitalized on this opportunity.

Airbnb built a platform to connect travelers with hosts to enable them to stay like locals in their dream destinations. Airbnb’s greatest genius is not the platform they built. It’s the understanding of the traveler’s mindset.

Many hotel owners and operators are cautiously monitoring the growing demand Airbnb is attracting and how it is changing the travel landscape. While the industry’s large online travel agencies (OTAs) do not seem impacted, at least yet, by the modernization Airbnb is bringing to travel planning, hotels are feeling the pinch. However, there is an opportunity for hotels to capitalize on the same four trends fueling Airbnb’s success: personalization, local expertise, location, and technology.

Hoteliers should take note, and with the right technology, they may be even better suited to delight guests through personalization and a local touch.

Personalization
Companies like Netflix, Amazon and Pandora created an expectation of personalization. Personalized digital experiences are no longer a luxury exclusive to the tech giants, but rather an expected norm.

Personalization is the most critical trend for hotels to leverage in order to attract guests and build loyalty. Hotels should furnish travelers with personalized journeys that consider each guest’s unique preferences, budgets and interests. Be an integral part of the experience through travel planning platforms that balance artificial intelligence and human insight to provide true personalization to each and every traveler.

Local Expertise
Airbnb effectively markets its emphasis on “true” local experiences. Hotels possess incredible insight with dedicated staff that offer a wealth of knowledge and connections in the neighborhood and destination. Highlight and share this wisdom and familiarity for travelers through the hotel’s digital experience and onsite team.

Location and Geography
It is no longer adequate for hotels to only share what is on their block or the same overused “top 10” lists. Thriving hotels guide guests to exceptional neighborhoods and rarer attractions. Integrate trip planning technologies to complement a hotel’s digital presence to invite personalization and discovery, and to create an experience that is differentiated.

Technology
The vast majority of travelers are comfortable exploring and booking online. Airbnb is as much a tech company as a hospitality company. It is imperative that a hotel’s digital platforms, from its website to social media, provide value in every stage of the travel lifecycle.

Offer seamless and cost-effective travel planning technologies, that are easy, enjoyable, and personal, whether guests are beginning to discover a destination, or they already checked-in.

By catering to personalization, local expertise, location and technology, Airbnb is shaking up what historically pushed travelers to hotels. It can be intimidating as hotel owners and operators consider how to integrate these trends as part of the guest experience. Yet, hotels are best positioned to offer these services to travelers in many destinations and venues. For example:

  • Consider partnering with a trip-planning platform as a seamless and cost-effective way to add white label technologies to the online and mobile experience for guests.
     
  • Utilize your network to partner with well known locals willing to share their recommendations and tips with travelers.
     
  • Ensure that staff have the tools to give targeted recommendations to guests, rather than overused lists or old brochures.
     

These partner solutions enable destination discovery that combines the best of local expertise, human experience and artificial intelligence to make trip planning easy, enjoyable and personal. This means deeper site engagement for hotels, curated content, longer stays and better guest experiences. Ultimately, it allows hotel owners and operators to best compete with Airbnb by getting in bed with today’s traveler.

Resource: utrippro.com

About Gilad Berenstein

Gilad Berenstein founded Utrip and Utrip PRO in 2010 to solve a bubbling challenge in the travel industry. After planning a dream vacation to Europe, and spending untold hours researching his trip, he had an epiphany-there had to be a better way to do this. Upon returning home, Gilad vowed to make his vision a reality and created Utrip and Utrip PRO to ease the travel planning process for consumers and businesses such as hotels, destination marketing organizations, airlines, cruise lines and points of interest. Gilad's background includes leadership positions in business development, financial and asset management and entrepreneurship at firms such as GB Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Harris Allison Buxbaum Group. He holds a BA in Business Administration, Accounting and Finance and Masters in Taxation from University of Washington.

Contact: Gilad Berenstein

gilad@utrip.com

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