AirBnB has transformed travel for millions of people world wide and thereby disrupted the travel industry. The website is a peer-to-peer community where people rent out available space in their home. Listings range from couches to castles and provide travelers with an alternative to a hotel. Many people who are hosts are also guests, and vice-versa. It is no surprise that hotels feel threatened; and hosts omitting to pay tourist and corporate taxes area thorn in the flesh of tourism authorities. Hence the company is facing major legal battles around the world (Venturebeat, 2013).
ENHANCING COMPETITIVE POSITIONING
Nevertheless AirBnB is committed to move the company forward and strengthen its strategic positioning. In this regard the three co-founders Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbie announced its now thriving to become a “hospitality” company in which a high-quality stay will be the focus of the experience. This represents a major evolution from a travel distribution business towards being a hospitality service provider.
EXPERIENCES AND STORIES AT THE CORE OF THE PRODUCT
Some new features were launched to bring about the envisaged push. The superhost programme is an alliance of “extraordinary” Airbnb hosts who create unique and meaningful stays for their guests. This will grow the number of listings that go beyond pure functionality (i.e. having a cheap place to stay) and thereby cater to the needs of travellers who look for authentic, personal and valuable experiences, a segment that has traditionally been served predominantly by high-priced, high-end hotel companies.
The “Stories” feature, where hosts and travelers can share their personal experiences with Airbnb, is a tool that allows guests and hosts to share their stories behind AirBnB stays. This is a powerful way of harnessing crowd sources for engaging in storytelling and experiential marketing.
Lastly AirBnB launches also “groups for hosts.” A tool where hosts can connect with other hosts nearby. This could lead to better communication and a better Airbnb community, thereby further strengthening the competitiveness of the websites local partners.
INNOVATION THAT WILL CHANGE THE FACE OF CITY BREAK TOURISM
The strategic direction that AirBnB is taking with this recent move towards embracing the principals of the experience economy will make the website attractive to new audiences. One should keep a close eye on how these features develop, as the smell of change in the accommodation sector is in the air.
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