Why it matters: A concierge, by definition, is a hotel employee whose job it is to assist guests by arranging tours, and making theater and restaurant reservations. For years, Airbnb has been experimenting with ways to create their own similar (and better) concierge experience. Efforts included its Neighbourhoods pages in 2012, where hosts could recommend things to do in a particular area, as well as a failed partnership with Vayable. This most recent “experiences” launch caught our eye, however, for while it’s almost exactly the same value proposition as the one offered by Vayable (where individuals can offer themselves as peer to peer guides), this particular initiative is homegrown and Airbnb-branded.
Don’t get us wrong, P2P experiences are an extremely hard business and not an instant slam dunk. Low margins and inconsistent guide experiences have been the downfall of many startups in this arena. However, Airbnb is no startup... it is much better suited to run this as a loss leader picking up valuable market share in the meantime. Look only to the millennial generation - 25% of the US population today and estimated to be 50% of US purchasing power by 2018. Millennials want unique experiences, in a recent survey as many as 79% of millennials said they are more adventurous about eating and drinking when traveling than when at home. What’s more unique than an Airbnb host taking you surfing? How many hotel concierges can roll up their suit trousers and jump on a board with you?
Why it matters: We were very surprised to see a new search engine pop up recently; is Google no longer enough? Having played around with Pineapple Search all week, we find the new engine for purely hospitality-related searches rather compelling (once configured). Created by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) and powered by Hsyndicate, “Pineapple is a highly specialized search tool focused on a hospitality industry information database.” In essence, it is for hoteliers, by hoteliers. Why a Pineapple? Well, not everyone knows this, but the pineapple has been a universal symbol of hospitality and welcome for many centuries, all over the world. We liken the search engine to our days in finance, when we would create sections of news for each asset we traded in. Take a few minutes yourself to log in and set-up your home page, selecting few of your interest topics and alerts. Well done everyone involved in the project.
Why it matters: There has been a profound global shift in the way the world’s most innovative people work, with many recent graduates forgoing the traditional corporate ladder to build their own businesses. We read that by 2020, 40% of the US labor force will work independently. As a result, co-working spaces are becoming increasingly popular, riding on the back of this Startup Nation we live in. No company has enjoyed more success in the space than WeWork. However, WeWork is not alone; hundreds have started up around the world, with one of our particular favorites being NeueHouse, which places “hospitality” as one of the four pillars of their “experience,” and which has gone so far as to bring onto their board hospitality giant and ex-Starwood CEO, Steven Heyer. So, as this article attests, surely it can’t be too long until shared workspaces infiltrate the hotel economy. This again suits the millennial traveller, who enjoys collaboration and is much more likely to extend a business trip into a personal vacation - as 62%have done.
In evaluating innovations in hospitality it’s helpful to consider the biggest problems facing the industry, and then identify the technology that helps solves them. Here are some of those problems and ways hotels have been solving them with innovative technology...
Just as Apple used mobile technology to redefine the notion of customer service in retail, and Uber used mobile technology to transform the meaning of customer service in transportation, mobile technology can similarly improve the provision of customer service in hospitality.