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#PRWIN: Checking in For Disruption

#PRWIN: Checking in For Disruption

Justin Schüler

In part to further illustrate what “disruption” is and how it is a mind-set every business should adopt to get ahead in business, I want to shine some light on another company that is doing just that.

Airbnb had a crazy start with selling boxes of “presidential cereal” to get their first round (1) but have ended up becoming a company valued at $25.5 billion, which is $5 billion over Marriott (2). How did they do that? They had an idea that they knew would disrupt the hotel business both on the consumer end and the renter ends.

To explain what Airbnb is for people unaware, it is a website and mobile app that allows people to put their own houses (or owned property) up for rent on a nightly basis just like you’d find on Expedia or Travelocity. The catch here is obviously the price. Since the person putting up their property or apartment is just a regular Joe, they can list their property for as little or much as they want. I did a quick search comparing the prices between hotels and Airbnbs in Orlando, Florida and the price was staggering. You’re look at $150 in a decent hotel and $60-$70 for an apartment (sometimes it’s a private room, sometimes it’s the whole apartment).

The idea itself is disruptive to not only the hotel industry but the travel industry as well. One of the areas they are expanding into is something that is second on a traveler’s list after they get to their lodging: FOOD.

Airbnb knows travelers are constantly looking for good food to eat as they are most likely new to the area. So, Airbnb is hooking up with another tech-forward app, Resy, to make bookings at restaurants around their location. (3)

This is brilliant move because it will keep people in the Airbnb app instead of going to their competitor’s—let alone Google. What’s the edge here? In working with Resy, Airbnb hopes to corner out the piece of the market on local-favorite, off-the-beaten-path types of places to eat. Let’s face it, the typical traveler doesn’t’ want to eat at Chili’s when they’re visiting a new town.

This once again shows that Airbnb is looking to find ways to become the premier and modern travel app that highlights the personal connection between tourists and denizens.

Additionally, Airbnb is a master at communication with their hosts (people who rent out their houses). As they are aware, their success depends on the happiness, willingness and success of the hosts. Every year, the company invites roughly 5,000 hosts to their “Airbnb Open” where they celebrate their success and more importantly, find out what the hosts need from them as partners. It’s a simple but effective use of resources.

To put it into prospective, Airbnb is another example of classic industry disruption. The numbers? Airbnb is booking 37 million per year and 1 in 3 leisure travelers booked through private accommodations which is a vast increase from 1 in 10 back in 2011. 31% of travelers who used Airbnb used it for business. (4)

It’s not 100% bright green pastures ahead of Airbnb as insurance companies, hotel groups and tenant groups are moving to their state legislature to combat Airbnb as people who put their place up for rent don’t need to pay occupancy taxes or they are violating their own home insurance policies. There will have to be some change in law before Airbnb can fully become the top dog in the world of travel. (5)

As a strong promotor of the disruptive attitude, Airbnb is one of the companies I’m watching closely and I’ll keep you updated with things I find out.

Disruption is the key to getting ahead in business today. An established relationship with the media and a firm layer of trust between you and client is the foundation of viability. Let’s talk about how PR can help you achieve those needs and how we can get you up and running fast! Taking this 5-minute company review will start to formulate how PR can be used in your business.


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