Retail

How Digital Platforms Innovate For Adventurers In The Airbnb Age

Digital Travel Platform

With people from around the world making connections through the web, digital marketplaces are offering common ground on which property owners and renters can meet. At the same time, however, these platforms are facilitating a more traditional sales need: They have to engage buyers and sellers as they operate in the digital world of connectivity.

These platforms must offer end-to-end services in an effort to stay relevant to consumers, according to the Payments And The Platform Economy Playbook from PYMNTS. As part of those efforts, these platforms can match buyers and sellers as well as securely handle payments while recommending services to enhance transactions — all in the same package.

From Australia to the U.S., digital platforms are connecting people around the globe through travel offerings. These are just some of the ways that home sharing and car sharing sites are bringing value-added offerings to consumers and owners around the globe: 

Just under 11 million — or 10.8 million — Australians participated in the sharing economy between July and December 2017. Australia’s Car Next Door, which was founded in 2013, provides a Turo-like car share service to connect car owners and would-be borrowers. The idea that people could share valuable items — like cars — was borderline crazy then, Car Next Door Communications Manager Kate Trumbull told PYMNTS in an interview last March. Airbnb and Uber then entered the market, which made the concept of Car Next Door a bit more palatable. Trumbull said at the time, “Often people refer to us as Airbnb for cars because that concept makes sense.”

Approximately 3 million — or 2.9 million — tourists used Airbnb in South Korea in 2018. As part of its offerings, the company has listings for experiences such as traditional kimchi making and a hidden look at Seoul with an artist per a recent search for the country on the site. Moreover, in a blog post last January, the platform planned to invest $5 million in the U.S. to develop, support and promote entrepreneurs through Airbnb Experiences with the goal of having them grow to 200 cities across the country this year. Airbnb wrote in the blog post, “By attracting travelers from around the world who seek to see cities through the eyes of a local, Airbnb Experiences bring real economic value to neighborhoods and non-profits that previously would not have benefited from tourism.”

More than six in 10 Gen Z consumers — or 62 percent — are open to renting single rooms from a home share service. The generation, which generally encompasses people who were born after 1996, is expected to account for the largest segment of consumers within a year. Members of this generation have not known a world without the web or digital. Faced with this up-and-coming generation, retailers and brands, as well as payment providers, are already preparing for the arrival of Gen Z as adult consumers. According to another estimate, people born between 1997 and 2016 influence $600 billion of spending by families. And it was also found that digital devices from the likes of Samsung as well as Apple are forecast to be popular with this demographic along with food and beverage brands.

And 5.6 million listings were on Booking as of October 2018. Last August, it was reported that the site had around 5 million bookable listings, while Expedia’s HomeAway had 1.7 million bookable online listings at the time. The news came after Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing notched $500 million in funding from Booking Holdings. The firm, which was formerly known as Priceline, was to offer the on-demand car services of Didi via its Booking.com apps via an integration. In addition, Didi customers were to book hotels through Booking.com and Agoda, its sister site. Didi VP of Strategy Stephen Zhu said, according to reports at the time, “We look forward to seamlessly connecting every segment of the journey and improving everyone’s traveling experience through more collaborative innovation with the Booking brands on product, technology and market development.”

About half of respondents — or 44 percent — say sharing economy services allow them to afford travel. And some other travel sharing economy services are taking a similar booking approach to Airbnb. Outdoorsy, for instance, allows users to find vehicles on the platform, type in their locations and select their reservation dates. The company’s website, in turn, loads a hybrid page that contains a map on the right and listing details on the left. Travelers then enter their dates of birth and drivers’ licenses when they want to book. But, while users can book roughly 33 percent of the company’s inventory instantly, some owners do require travelers to send them a message instead. In addition, Outdoorsy Co-founder and CEO Jeff Cavins noted in a previous PYMNTS interview that people are starting to view the platform as a third dimension to the hotel industry as well as an alternative to hotels and home shares.

From RV shares to home shares, online platforms must work to enhance customer experiences to help serve their users. To accomplish this task, these sites need to engage adventurers at the right moments throughout their explorations in the digital world.

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