The sharing economy seems to have wiggled its way into every part of the travel industry. For better or worse, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in spite of the cautionary tales that crop up every week or so. People like the idea of crowd-sourcing – whether for products or experiences, I think it lends an opportunity to support something you believe in, feel like a part of something bigger, and contribute in a new way. The main draws of this type of travel are local immersion, unique experiences, and collaboration – all, of course, on a budget.
If turnabout is fair play, hoteliers can surely wiggle right into a few new markets by borrowing a few of those ideas.
- Local Immersion – Perhaps the most obvious answer is getting with local merchants. Be sure your staff knows where the best places are to eat, shop, and have fun. A virtual concierge can put all of the best local spots in the hands of your staff AND your guests. Aside from that, get to know local artists. Display paintings and sculptures in your lobby and guest rooms, use local musicians for live or even ambient music, and replace mass-market tchotchke with handmade crafts in your gift shop.
- Unique Experience (on a budget) – This may be the part where everything falls apart. Overhead costs are not going anywhere, which prevents offering guests a major rate reduction. However, this is where hotels can be the best at what sets them apart. Be the best at providing what sharing sites cannot always guarantee. Set travelers at ease in terms of safety and comfort, not to mention cleanliness and basic expectations. Then provide value where you can – offering breakfast, great coffee, or snacks could make the stay just affordable enough for guests on a tight budget. Provide discounts by partnering with local merchants, and be sure you are upfront on prices and additional charges.
- Collaboration – Many hotels are already having guests collaborate by using their photos in marketing and engaging them with social media contests. Lots of people feel invested in an area they enjoyed on vacation, even after they have left. Guests who have enjoyed a fantastic experience at your hotel may be interested in putting “Best Of” lists together for future guests. Hosting a contest around this may give them a little more incentive.