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Airbnb – back when it was called AirBed & Breakfast – used to be little more than a Craigslist for travelers: Users scoured vacation listings, clicked “book,” and exchanged cash. Today, the platform is a large, complex beast, with a glut of features – like Business Travel Ready, Social Connections, and Find a Superhost. The majority of these features emphasize one specific and key concept – curating a great travel experience. And it’s not just Airbnb. The HomeAway network, countless emerging startups, and even Google, now promote features and products that help create vacation experiences.
As the travel industry continually evolves to highlight unique travel experiences, it’ll be up to you, as a vacation rental host, to keep up with this trend and give travelers what they expect – a uniquely curated trip that leaves them with a fondly memorable travel experience. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
In June 2016, Airbnb announced City Hosts, which lets guests combine a vacation rental with a specialized guided experience, such as cooking lessons or a personalized city tour. Two months later, Airbnb purchased Spanish startup Trip4Real – a company that offers activities organized by locals – which suggests the San Francisco-based company plans to specialize in guest tours. Developments like these are reflective of changing tastes: Guests now want a travel experience, rather than a mere vacation.
Other travel websites are also heeding this change. TripAdvisor, for example, recently redesigned its homepage to make booking destination activities easier. And Google recently launched Google Trips, a mobile app for organizing reservations and recommending tours and activities.
The way booking platforms advertise vacation rentals has also changed. Earlier this year, Airbnb introduced a pilot scheme, Sonoma Select, which blends California Wine Country rentals with amenities you won’t find in a conventional listing: wine, bath products, local treats, etc. “Airbnb is constantly testing new ways to create meaningful experiences for our community,” the company said in April 2016. Meanwhile, HomeAway has coupled with Expedia and is “testing different experiences to attract more travelers to [their] vacation rental category.” If successful, expect to see more personalized travel adventures in the future.
Since travelers are already craving authentic, bespoke experiences away from the four walls of their rental, hosts can curate experiences of their own, in the interim.
Pearlshare, for example, targets hosts who want to create customized travel guides without the hassle and lets hosts share their local knowledge for optimal discovery. New apps, like Whym, provide exclusive offers on last minute tickets, tours, and attractions around the world – including 3 of Pillow’s 4 major markets. TourMega is also a great new tour search engine and booking platform, connecting travelers with experiences around the world. Including options like these in your guest guidebook provides options for travelers no matter what experience they’re looking for.
You can also capitalize on this trend by including amenities and décor in your property that exude the local character – to make your space stand out from the competition and provide that coveted experience. For tips on how to do this, read here!
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