Officially launched six months ago, Airbnb’s experience platform, Trips is set to offer locally hosted experiences in 51 cities by the end of the year.
And some people are not happy.
With their lodging base being increasingly squeezed by regulation, and pressed by competition, to grow as a company they need to find value elsewhere. Speaking at the New York Stock Exchange, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said that he wants to make lodging account for only ‘half of the company’s revenue in the next ten years’.
Trips are serious business. It signals that travel is becoming more focused on the entire experience and that Airbnb want to become the owners of this experience. They have an ambition to become ”the super brand of travel”
For many users of Airbnb, happier, entertained guests are a good thing. But, for professional vacation rental managers that are building their own brand, the expansion of Airbnb into guest experiences is an encroachment on their territory.
‘As a host, I’m cut out. I have a system to offer my guests services and experiences but now I’m not involved anywhere’ – Andrei Comper, Barcelona Property Manager
The guest experience is something that many managers don’t want portals, such as Airbnb, taking over. It affects your brand, your repeat customers, your reviews, and your bottom line. Managers that we spoke to at VRMA in Amsterdam were incensed that Airbnb were forcibly diminishing the role of the property manager yet relying on them for inventory.
As with their properties, Airbnb holds no stock, it has no real inventory. Airbnb is only ever a connection between people. So, as a host, you’re in a valuable position. You are a trusted guide. You can offer local knowledge and a unique perspective. You know why they are travelling, who they are travelling with and the sort of experience they want to have from their holiday.
Vacation rental managers will now have to decide which role they wish to play. Do you want to be part of the Airbnb wave, or do you want to use Airbnb as a part of your own business and brand?
If your goal is to have an independent, profitable vacation rental business you use, but never rely on third party portals. There is an important lesson to be learned from Trips. The relationship between your business and your guests is a valuable commodity. Not just for the revenue it can bring your business, but also how your brand is remembered, if your guests seek you out again and the reviews you receive. If you want to build your business into an independent travel brand, you need to offer an experience that competes with companies like Trips that aim to control the guest experience. As a vacation rental manager you have the position to provide a more valuable experience than any outside company.
Here’s how you can beat Trips at their own game
The first thing you need to add services and experiences to your business is a customer base that trusts your business. The great news is that you already have this rare commodity. This is your USP.
Next you need to build a network of service providers and experiences
With Vreasy, you can use our existing platform of verified service and experience providers. If you already provide services, or know of local events or tours that you would like to feature, you can use Vreasy to connect your own network of services and experiences.
Then: you add value
Why would guests want to book services from you rather than a service like Trips? One of the biggest competitive advantages is that you can integrate your services with your bookings. This means, guests can book and pay for services and experiences at the time of booking. One simple transaction.
With their third-party services, you have to book, pay and verify everything again. Trips evens involves having to send a selfie with your ID to verify your identity.
You can also recommend specific experiences based on your guest’s interests and reasons for travelling. Provide a simple, more personal service and you have given your guests more reasons to choose your business.
Finally, you distinguish your brand
If your guests have booked a perfect property, chosen services and experiences via your brand, you should get the credit.
What marks this out from a platform like Trips is that, rather than cutting you out of the equation, Vreasy wants to use your relationship with your guests. We know that a good relationship between a property manager and a guest is a key part of the experience in a vacation rental. Every service you provide through Vreasy bears your branding and the name of your business.
Our service booking tools, such as arrival forms, email marketing or Guidal, our e-concierge app are matched to your brand. They bear your name, your logo and are styled according to your colours. You will also be paid a commission for every service booked by your guests. Vreasy services become a part of your business – not a way to use your business.
Airbnb’s decision to promote their experiences shows that travel is no longer focused on the lodging. Diversifying your business makes it stronger. Don’t become just a footnote in the mammoth success story of Airbnb, use tools like Airbnb and Vreasy to build a stronger business of your own.
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