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A Lesson In Unlocking Value

When you book a room at the Hilton or the Hyatt you either have a pleasant conversation with someone in a call centre who you will never hear from again, or you get a polite, well-crafted email in your inbox. Your expectation about the experience is based on the photos from the website and the reviews on Trip Advisor. No value is created at the time of booking. It’s a transaction. Nothing very meaningful is exchanged.

When you enquire about a room on Airbnb you’re encouraged to reach out to the host by telling him your story.

“Tell John a little about yourself.
What brings you to Melbourne? Who’s joining you?
What do you love about this listing? Mention it!”

You are already investing in the connection with John (not just his apartment) right out of the gate. Contrary to what some believe, the Airbnb platform is not just about access, it’s about fostering connectedness from the first interaction. A ton of value is intentionally created because of the interactions guest and hosts have before the booking is made and the guest arrives. Trust and empathy are exchanged and felt along with check in instructions—which it turns out are secondary.

Business analysts comment that Airbnb unlocked the latent value in unused spaces. True—but the greater value they deliver is a sense of belonging for travellers. They are helping to redefine what hospitality should be, beyond room service and a quiet place to sleep for the night.

The reason a 5 star hotel can’t compete is because it’s tough to create meaning at scale.
The business that does will always be out front.

There are a dozen opportunities for you to unlock value before your customer walks through your door? Start with one—see where it leads you.

Image by Calitexican.

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