How soon will Airbnb become another Expedia or Priceline?
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Airbnb promotes the idea of letting travelers rent a lodging facility or extra space from a local resident rather than a traditional hotel. While peer-to-peer (P2P) room-sharing services still remain Airbnb's core business at this point, the company is aiming for something bigger — Airbnb wants to be a travel enterprise.
If that's the case, will Airbnb soon become another giant OTA (online travel agent) like Expedia or Priceline? I bet it would, just by looking at what Airbnb rolled out recently.
Airbnb launched a new line of business — Airbnb Experiences — back in November 2016. While Airbnb Experiences might not be as successful as what the company had anticipated, this line of business is supposed to bring enriching experience for travelers staying in a destination. Airbnb Experiences offer services ranging from a bicycle or food tour to a music-recording experience in a real studio, which goes beyond the company's core P2P room-sharing services.
Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb
In February, Airbnb introduced two new brands called Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb. As part of the Airbnb Experiences, these two new brands are expected to provide travelers better and distinguishable experiences, as compared to those offered in a regular Airbnb listing.
Listings of Airbnb Plus and Beyond by Airbnb will get certified by the company with multiple checkpoints, including hosts with outstanding guest service ratings (4.8 or above out of a 5-star rating) and other must-have facilities. With such a new tier-branding strategy, Airbnb is hoping to provide customers a smoother booking experience as they browse through over 4.5 million listings for the ones that fit into their budget and expectations.
Adding hotels to its listings
Contrary to the common belief that Airbnb is taking the business from nearby hotels, it turns out hotels could possibly benefit from Airbnb under the condition that the hotels' close-by Airbnb listings have a higher price point than the hotels themselves. More recently, Airbnb added real hotels to its listings, including more than 24,000 boutique hotels. This line of business has grown 520 percent over the past year.
According to some hoteliers who have had their hotels listed on Airbnb, the room-sharing website is directing a good amount of traffic and business to their hotels. The Wall Street Journal considered Airbnb's move of adding hotels as the company's effort to boost its revenue and growth before the IPO.
Teaming up local hotels to ease the check-in and check-out experience
According to The Mianichi, "Japan's National Daily since 1922," Hotel Suehiro (a local hotel in Tokyo) has formed a partnership with "minpaku," also known as the Airbnb-styled Japanese room-sharing facilities.
On one hand, Hotel Suehiro will perform the check-in, check-out and other services typically found at a hotel's front desk for the travelers staying in the nearby minpaku. On the other hand, the hotel is getting more customers to use the hotel's spa.
Building P2P residential-rental-ready properties
Airbnb is entering the real estate market with a $200 million investment, contrary to the "asset-light" strategy adopted by hotels. The company is building Airbnb-branded apartments in cities across the U.S. All units in the apartment are built with "Airbnb-friendly" designs, including keyless entry and shared common areas. Tenants in these apartments are allowed to rent their places on Airbnb for no more than 180 days a year.
Rewarding loyal customers
According to Travel + Leisure, Airbnb will add a loyalty program — Superguest — for travelers to its existing loyalty program for hosts, Superhost. While the details for the Superguest program have yet to be announced, its pilot program will debut this summer for 10,000 members.
The Superhost program, which has already been in place, gives qualified hosts more visibility on Airbnb.com and early access to the company's new programs. Just like other travel reward or hotel loyalty programs, the Superguest program is expected to help Airbnb keep its users coming back for the services offered.
The above products/services were just a few new initiatives taken by Airbnb, with more expected to come. At this point, can anyone stop the growth of Airbnb? If not, what can we expect from the war among Airbnb, OTAs and hotels?
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