The whole appeal of Airbnb is that it's not like staying in a hotel, but the hot startup is realizing it might want to copy some features of its more traditional rivals when it comes to building customer loyalty.
In an announcement Tuesday, CEO Brian Chesky said Airbnb will begin tailoring the search results customers see based on their travel preferences, steering them towards hosts or neighborhoods that meet their needs, like being in a family-friendly area with easy access to parks, or within walking distance to nightlife. Included within the new Guidebooks feature on its mobile app, this feature will let people zero in on things that are important to them, whether they’re traveling on business or taking a vacation, Chesky told the New York Times.
“The importance of matching is even more specific to the travel industry,” he told the newspaper.
Guidebooks will also, as its name suggests, provide hosts with the opportunity to give guests insider information, nudging them away from tourist traps and more towards hidden gems and local favorites. By positioning itself not just as a tech platform to connect buyers and sellers, but as an arbiter of crowdsourced cool, Airbnb is giving itself more of a lifestyle gloss, taking a page from the hotel industry's branding playbook.