Until now, Airbnb has been about homes. Today, Airbnb is launching Trips, bringing together where you stay, what you do, and the people you meet all in one place. Brian Chesky
This is how the giants of shared housing announced a fundamental change to their business model last year. It instantly changed the focus from providing a utility (my target needs accommodation) to offering an emotional state (my target wants an escape, a new experience, excitement…). But let’s be clear: playing off the emotional needs of consumers isn’t a new thing.
Since the 1980s, brands both big and small have sought to build a story and a set of values around their products, trying to engage their targets and be incorporated into their life aspirations. But thanks to digital transformation, that path has become more sophisticated.
Where “experience” used to be symbolic, it’s now become concrete and physical. Where it used to be essentially a marketing ploy, it’s now the final goal (the scope) of products and business models. We use digital tools that are becoming more and more refined, that break down barriers that devices put up and enter into the fabric of our lives… and definitively change the dynamics of our relationships.
How Airbnb Trips works
Trips were essentially started as a mobile feature, but since yesterday, they’re also available for desktop. The new Airbnb menu grants access to 3 new sections:
Houses: the already well-known Airbnb model, where you can search for short-term rental homes.
Experiences: starting from €30 you can buy a whole range of activities. You’ll find, for example, anything from 4 hours of Gourmet Food & Wine in Florence, to 4 hours of Hip Hop & Music Concerts, to 3 days of Comedy & Stand-up in Los Angeles. Activities are posted directly by the hosts, who each offer different skills, including: local handicrafts, food, truffle hunting, burlesque lessons, biking, etc. The user therefore, can not only rent an apartment, but also buy immersive, themed activities.
Places: an informative section with around 100 city guides, themed or otherwise, all over the world. Hosts are the ones to post these as well, each emphasising specific places and itineraries.
The arrival of Trips also represents a useful strategy for rebounding from a rather delicate moment. Around the world, Airbnb is facing protests by hotel owners and possible new legislation that would raise its taxes. But if you only think of this new initiative in the context of these things, it’s a pretty limited interpretation. “Experience” is part of a general trend that the creation of a competitor, google trips, can attest to.
The meta-service economy
With the many revolutions that arose with the sharing economy, there’s definitely a new idea of business models. Every digital startup grappling with a new idea for a company repeats one question obsessively… one that will come back at every pitch, every revision of the business model, and every market analysis for the product: “What’s the need?” What need in the market does my idea meet? With a sharing economy, the bar for that “need” is being raised a little higher all the time, moving toward the intangible. The traditional working economy was based on industrial needs and tied to production; the sharing economy leverages on the idea of services. Airbnb, Uber, Deliveroo…they all transformed traditional markets into personal, on-demand services. But today probably marks the beginning of a new era, where even the very concept of a service is transcended. That obsessive question could change from “what’s the need?” to “what’s the experience?”
Think about it–it’s not insignificant. Providing services is now becoming the creation of experiences that are intended to be part of other services: travel, accommodation, food, socializing, enjoying art and music… We’re entering a meta-service economy, and the benefits in terms of profits are not small-scale.
Selling different services in the form of a single experience lets a brand follow a consumer for a longer time. Pre-Sales – Sales – post sales all become a single moment of completion and potential conversion. It’s thus a longer engagement time, which opens up opportunities for further sales, as well as obviously a higher economic gain. Not to mention that it all becomes contextual and natural, which drastically increases the possibility for conversion.
At first glance, it looks like a macroeconomic concept that has little to do with digital, but let’s dig deeper: how can you improve the bounce rate of a website? You increase content and boost page views. In this way, the user stays engaged longer and can be monetized better. This process is identical. It’s about working to increase the time and amount of content/services offered.
In short: experience marketing is the first rule of digital marketing, but applied to economics.
I'm characterized by a great curiosity, that drives me to achieve important goals and new challenges. I'm a web and digital marketer mainly focused on digital strategy and social advertising with design, programming and digital analyst skills.
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