Food for thought: Airbnb has a killer feature, discussing loyalty (again), what is AI for hotel marketing and more
By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates
With ITB coming up in just a couple of days this is going to be an exciting week. I'm hoping to discover some new innovative solutions, or at least confirm those I've heard of. Hoping this will not just be an ITB marketing buzzword show. But even if you're not going, I hope this week's newsletter lives up to your expectations. Best, Martin
Loyalty: Will we solve it this year?
Existing loyalty schemes are ripe for disruption. So many parts are seeming stale that we need to look into new methods. The main use is to give discounts and perks to those who stay often, that small segment who travel much. But wouldn't it be more interesting to find ways to make the huge segment of less frequent guests loyal? Then there's the issue of identifying guests. But we're in 2018, having to recognize guests with a number or a card is so 1980s. There are phones, emails, cookies and plenty of other ways to recognize guests. The question is will we manage to create a new and better system this year?
Embracing Artificial Intelligence for Hotels
Artificial intelligence is cool. It must be cool because all the cool kids are talking about it. But as one leaves the tech sphere and returns to real life (where most hoteliers live) one realizes it isn't quite as revolutionary. It doesn't fix leaks, it doesn't make beds and all those things. But still it can help generate more revenue and optimize the revenue we make. Maybe the point isn't AI but what it can do (for real, not in a science fiction novel). This great post from Triptease on automation is worth a read.
Why Brands Win?
Related to loyalty is brand. Building brands is long hard work, but it pays off with repeat business and better margins. The opposite is commoditization. Every hotel is a brand, even chains are actually comprised of many small brands. Independent hotels are as much brands as the chains on a different scale. It is something that too many forget. Being a place to sleep is being a commodity. The fallacy of trying to be generic keywords in Google is ultimately chasing the goal of being a commodity. So here's a simple writeup of building a brand from a startup founder who did it wrong and then did it right.
A lesson in app design for travel
At some point or another we are or will be faced with designing things. Either a website, an application, a product or a hotel. If we got into industrial age a century ago, we've probably moved into the design age now. Everyone should have an idea of the process that goes into designing things. This case study of how a team of designers re-designed the Lonely Planet app is a good place to start.
Airbnb's "killer feature" is community
The one feature Airbnb has which no other OTA can compare with isn't inventory, budget, technology or an upcoming IPO. It's community. The OTAs, having been in the 1990s, are great at e-commerce and conversions. But building communities was never part of that DNA. Airbnb on the other hand, came along after the internet had evolved from an information platform to a community platform. The question now is will that community be stronger than $5b yearly ad budget?