If you’re looking to book accommodations on Airbnb, you’ll notice something a little different this week. Airbnb experiences are taking center stage with “above the fold” placement on Airbnb.com. Ever the innovators, Airbnb’s leadership team was not satisfied to solely disrupt the travel accommodation industry, they have a lot more of the $7.2 trillion dollar travel & tourism industry to conquer.

Airbnb home page.pngLast week Airbnb took over the #1 spot in the 2017 CNBC Disruptor 50 list. The recognition isn’t solely based on achieving a $31 billion valuation, and completely turning the hotel industry on it’s head. In an interview with CNBC, Airbnb’s Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer Nathan Blecharczyk, said:

“Within accommodation we’re number one for what we do...but, beyond accommodation we’re thinking about the travel experience end-to-end. Our most recent launch has been something we call Experiences, allowing travelers to connect with local people to do activities when they’re visiting.”

Blecharczyk expects that in 3-5 years, Experiences will be a part of almost every trip with Airbnb, and that’s because Experiences are very unique.

“These (Experiences) are not offering get on/get off bus tours. These are experiences offered by local people. It’s a totally new kind of product that we’re incubating.”

To learn more about services marketplaces, click here.

What kind of experiences? Well, if you’re visiting Bangkok and have a few hours to spare, you can buy a Thai Fruit Carving experience.

Thai Fruit Carving.png

If you’re traveling to Barcelona and want to work off the Paella, join Mariona for a sunrise yoga session:

Beach Yoga.png


One striking part of Nathan’s interview is when asked if they’re trying to take more of Marriott’s market share he says, “We offer such different products. When you offer consumers choice, let them vote with their wallets.” And in response to hotel regulatory threats, he says:

“It’s not a winning strategy to try to limit consumer choice.”

It’s clear this is where Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb are winning - they’re giving consumers more choice than any other option. They’re using the marketplace model to build extensive networks of sellers of goods and services, with consumers. They’re also giving consumers more information to support that choice - with extensive ratings and reviews. With experiences, Airbnb now offers travelers choices on where to stay, what to do, and soon (as the CEO has hinted), how to get there. It’s amazing.

What does it mean for the travel industry?

Two parts of Nathan’s interview need to be paid close attention to: “Consumer choice” and “travel experience end-to-end.” Amazon has created a new breed of consumer that values choice and convenience above all. Take that same consumer and apply it to the travel & tourism industry - and you can see how Airbnb is on an easy path to domination. To remain relevant, big hotel chains who already have extensive knowledge of local services need to work fast to offer those curated, local experiences online, where everyone does their travel research.

How are services marketplaces disrupting other industries?

In short, there’s opportunity in every industry. Here’s what you can do on an average day today:

You can get up in the morning and take an Uber to work. For lunch, you can order takeout from Deliveroo. If you need groceries for dinner, Instacart is on the way. Need to buy a gift for a friends birthday? How about a piece of artwork from Etsy. Have to book a trip for work? Airbnb counts business travel as 11% of their business. Forgot you need a dutch oven to cook dinner? Amazon same-day shipping has you covered. Forgot the wine?!? Shame. But Drizly is there to save the day. And if other people carting your goods and services to you still leave you stressed, you can order up an in-home massage from Zeel.

This list showcases transportation, grocery, travel & tourism, retail, and other goods/services. I didn’t even get into home services like cleaning, servicing, and babysitting. Services marketplaces are already entering every industry.

Retailers, manufacturers, and brands need to build their own services marketplaces to remain relevant in the world where consumer convenience and choice are king.

To learn more about services marketplaces, click here.

Jess Iandiorio

Written by Jess Iandiorio

Former Chief Marketing Officer, Mirakl

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