Collaborative Economy AirBnb Loved over Traditional Travel Sites

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Disruption: Traditional Travel Sites Fall Behind –New Players Taking Preference
Ever wonder how well companies are performing, esp if you don’t have access to their financials?  One big clue is the organic social media chatter being discussed about them, which we refer to as a component called  mindshare.  The above graphic (upper right is best) shows how AirBnb has far more chatter about its brand over traditional travel websites, with mostly adoring comments pushing it to the upper right.  Data supplied by NetBase (an Altimeter client), who crunches unstructured social content into insight and analytics.

  • AirBnb unique experience of other people’s homes poses threat to traditional hotels.  The below selected quotes, also provided by NetBase shows the preference for both the unique website experience, as well as the unique listings beyond traditional hotels.  Select tweets below that helped to derive the data, show how consumers are finding pleasure in unique AirBnb experience, and some having better quality experiences as people become like hotels.  What makes AirBnb so unique?  They’ve already integrate Facebook social graph, which allows you to see which one of your friends has stayed, or is a host, increasing trust.  Secondly, they’re very unique local neighborhood breakdown, such as this one of SF’s Mission district sets them apart as an experiential travel site.
  • Traditional travel sites lumped in neutral land.  Perhaps a marketing executives biggest challenge is trying to segment themselves from similar competitors –the cost of marketing rises to be unique.  The traditional travel websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, and Hotwire battle it out in no man’s land, in neutral sentiment.  Because they’re tightly grouped together with mostly neutral sentiment it means they’ll have to spend even more on marketing to differentiate –or make radical product changes to stand apart from the pack.   Expedia which has the most discussion in the space straddles further into negative sentiment, while Travelocity has far less discussion –and most it in the negative sentiment.
  • Outliers Orbitz and Hipmunk hold unique market opportunities.  For some marketers, being in a unique position, even with negative sentiment is a greater opportunity.  Orbitz, while disliked by organic social media sentiment offers a upside for a company like Orbitz is they have the rare opportunity to tell a comeback story –bypassing the four in the middle.  Three year old new player Hipmunk, while has a small amount of market chatter has an overwhelming positive sentiment as they aggregate and simply travel listings.  Hipmunk’s opportunity is to get their already happy customers to evangelize on their behalf, stealing market chatter from traditional players.

The Sharing Revolution is Rising –Corporations Must Develop a Strategy. Traditional businesses (esp stagnant ones) must develop collaborative economy strategy –or risk disruption from new sharing startups.  While this is only a look at one sector, hospitality and travel I look forward to exposing more of the data in this space, while hotels and cars were first to be disrupted, but if you’re in a traditional corporation, you must pay attention to the sharing revolution, which will impact all verticals. Altimeter is publishing an open research report on the Collaborative Economy on June 4th, 2013, focused on how corporations can be relevant with the sharing revolution.

Below: Select tweets provided by NetBase that illustrate the preference for AirBnb over traditional hospitality and travel websites.

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  • Some related tweets

    James Wester ‏@jameswester7m >>>

    Jeremiah Owyang Not sure I agree AirBnB is a threat to hotels. Maybe more like Square servicing underserved market? (Do we know if they make $?)

    Alyssa G ‏@agardina10m >>>

    @jowyang:disqus @airbnb also does a great job w/ proactive customer service. Tweeted them about an issue and 5 min later had an email from support.

  • Frank,

    Do you know if AirBnb was even considered in that study? Visits isn’t financial performance either.

    The data provided is social media chatter on what customers say and part of the overall marketing funnel, that could setup visits, or is the reaction post-visit.

    It’s hard for me to comment on another person’s methodology. I worked with CMO of NetBase on obtaining this data.

    Hope we can connect soon over pizza.

  • Lisa Joy Rosner

    Thanks for the great post Jeremiah! The collaborative economy is here to stay. If anyone wants learn more about how NetBase calculated these results, check out our webinar on 6/5 here: http://bit.ly/ZrcN1l

  • Thank you for sharing this data with me Lisa, I look forward to next.

  • Peter Fasano

    Great series and looking forward to the report. I am in agreement with your post but not with the chart.

    I don’t think the right metric was selected for this comparison between these hospitality companies.
    – Social chatter and sentiment is interesting but not a strong indicator of service or transactional preference. I think this chart shows that traditional Digital Hospitality Aggregators may have an efficient conversion or service process and thus a largely neutral social outcome.
    – Perhaps the comparison within the direct category to AirBnB should have included Homeaway or Couchsurfing or others here: http://www.quora.com/Airbnb/Who-is-Airbnbs-biggest-competition
    – Alternately looking at “quality of user” may be an interesting comparison to evaluate it from a media targeting perspective looking at HHI, demographic and psychographic travel affinities to understand who has the more sustainable customer.

  • Lisa Joy Rosner

    Hi Peter,

    The Brand Passion Index looks at the intersection between 3 metrics:
    Buzz/Sentiment/Passion Intensity. This chart is a relative visualization of how brands stack against each other. It helps a brand structure questions about why they sit where they do, and then they use NetBase’s social intelligence dashboard to dig in and learn more and this guides strategy.

    I run the BPI every month on different categories and publish the results on my blog on NetBase. As people gear up for summer travel, the topic I picked for June was “travel booking sites”(Jeremiah scooped it!). Airbnb, like the others in the report fall under that category as they aggregate stays from many different providers (be it a consumer or hotel). We did not include Hyatt, Marriott…etc. because they each represent one company. I am happy to run an analysis comparing major hotels to Airbnb, LMK if that is interesting to you or if you want to see any other data.

  • Lisa Joy Rosner

    Share of buzz or passion are not an indicator of of share of market, but it can be of where it will trend in the future.

  • Peter Fasano

    Thanks Lisa – I will have a closer look at your data and thanks for the offer.

  • ggruber66

    Lisa, I understand what you are saying, but I was just trying to point out that similarly it’s a big leap to assume that passion/sentiment is an indicator of future success. I would agree that it gives you a much greater potential for success than if you had negative sentiment.

    But the chart also ignores the scale issue. When Expedia is dealing with millions of customers, there is a much greater propensity to get a mixture of reaction, as opposed to a start up like Hipmunk who can get points for just being ‘new’ and hasn’t had enough opportunities to have the inevitable faulty delivery of their product which leads to more negative reactions (remember MG’s Valentine’s Day rant a few years ago?).

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