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AIRBNB’S “LOCAL COMPANION” IN-APP ON BETA-TEST

Airbnb develops its services for travellers. The company is testing a brand-new in-app functionality “Local companion”, which allows travelling users to ask questions to locals in addition to being an easy-to-use concierge service. The new feature “connects you with real people that live at your holiday destination and allows you to ask questions like ‘where’s the best sushi’” reports TheNextWeb.

HAVING PERSONALISED SERVICE

Airbnb pushes further its offer, in providing travellers immediate on the move services. Tickets for games or concerts can be purchased through the app, as long as the user approves the charge. The app uses then the credit card registered beforehand. The access of the new functionality would be free of charge, whereas the Airbnb phone-in concierge service, existing since 2011, is charged by a phone call (that can be high for foreigners). More than a common concierge service, “Local companion” offers travellers other “extraordinary” services such as purchasing :

  • sold-out concert ticket
  • hard-to-get restaurant reservation
  • in-demand conferences and talks
  • sought-after nightclubs

CONNECTING TRAVELLERS WITH LOCALS

The principal asset of this beta-tested functionality is that it connects travellers with locals. When the traveller opts-in the sharing of his localisation, “Local companion” looks for local users available and is able to recommend things to do near the place booked. Then question can be asked by the traveller and answers are received within a few hours. How Airbnb finds the local users is not explained yet. TheNextWeb assumes that the company will pay a small fee to encourage local to collaborate.

NEW CHALLENGES FOR THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Airbnb understands the importance of locals and their value for tourism in providing good tips and recommendations about their city. With Local companion, Airbnb would offer every traveller :

  • personalised service
  • accessible on-the-move directly on mobile
  • spontaneity
  • local recommandation

Local Companion emphasises peer-to-peer’s information and experience sharing. It is then the duty of destinations to develop personalised communication and take advantage of the opportunity to use Local Companion (once broadly launched) as local user and thus promote events and sightseeing.

With this new feature, Airbnb increases further its competitiveness to the traditional hospitality industry players. Concierge service is no more exclusively provided by hotels and for top-level customers.

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