, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

Airbnb: to start collaborating with travel agencies?

the startup is multiplying contacts with professionals

In August, Airbnb launched a service aimed at business travelers. In September, the platform that provided accommodation to two million French travelers since its creation in 2008, signed a commercial partnership with a work council. Is the expert in accommodation rental through individuals going to multiply its contact with tourism professionals?

Rédigé par Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mercredi 15 Octobre 2014

Airbnb, a major player of CtoC, is multiplying partnerships in BtoB.
Airbnb, a major player of CtoC, is multiplying partnerships in BtoB.
Last September, Airbnb was making its first steps in the world of Work Councils by signing a commercial partnership with ProwebCE.

Is the website that helped 1 million French people travel in 2014 making ties with the BtoB sector?

“It is the first time that we agree on such a contract. Airbnb is democratizing. There is a will to diversify its uses.

Through this partnership, we wish to better understand this target, families, who make more and more reservations via our website.

We follow trends and evolutions. If this partnership, currently in a trial phase, yields positive results, then we could replicate it”
, comments Nicolas Ferrary, France’s Director of the platform, that shows 100,000 references in France.

Business Travelers: “10 to 20% of our clientele”

Last August, the expert in individual accommodation rentals had already stepped into the BtoB sector, with a page dedicated to business travelers.

Through this service, the responses take into the account the expectations of professionals: access to Wifi or the possibility of reserving instantaneously.

“Business travelers represent 10 to 20% of our clientele. It is an axis that is developing, from major companies to smaller enterprises, continues the France Director. To give you an example, during the cardiology conference in Lyon, we recorded a peak in reservations.”

This is why Airbnb developed a system that enables to track reservations on the website.

The company also signed a partnership with the American expert software company of bill management and business travel planning, Concur.

“The Airbnb offer hasn’t been integrated within the Concur network, but they created an API for accounting. It is a three way agreement between Airbnb, Concur, and the company that uses our services,” explains Nicolas Ferrary.

Could the GDS be another point of contact? When asked, France’s young director does not answer negatively. However, none of the GDS we asked could give us a clear response.

“We have meetings and discussions with GDS but there are also many obstacles to such a collaboration.

We overcame some through the instantaneous reservations system. GDS like working with immediate availabilities.

Our website now allows that: with the owner's agreement, it is possible to reserve an accommodation without waiting for confirmation on his part.

Our goal is for everyone to be able to use Airbnb, but no partnership is being considered at the moment.”

Getting closer to tourism offices

Nicolas Ferrary, Airbnb’s France Director
Nicolas Ferrary, Airbnb’s France Director
In parallel with marketing there is also the will to promote a specific region.

Some tourism offices, such as Bordeaux and Chamonix, are actively thinking about ways to collaborate with Airbnb, this was illustrated by Nicolas Ferrary’s presence at the e-tourism National Summit on October 8 and 9 in Pau.

“The tourism office isn’t aware of all the accommodation offers on its territory, this lack of knowledge hurts the promotion of the area. For example, on Abritel, 95% of French destinations are not even listed. We have to put tourism offices back into these networks”, affirms Nicolas Jabaudon, Director of Médoc Océan, during a workshop.

In fact, tourism offices could have an important role in advising hoteliers/renters, especially on formalities such as the tourism tax. We could also envision an Airbnb accommodation certified by a tourism office.

Today, this platform has brought on new ways to valorize a space and consider the new, emerging players.

Because these hosts have become new salespeople.

“The first contact a tourist gets when he stays in my home, is me. I’m the best seller on the destination. Especially since this type of cheaper accommodation generates more spending on the region's amenities. It would be in the best interest of tourism offices to provide us with news and informational documents on the destinations…”

Nicolas Ferrary seems to agree. “We could put the agenda of a tourism office online and organize events between Airbnb hosts and tourism offices,” he exclaims during the e-tourism National Summit.

What is the goal of these incentives to get closer? Satisfy clients’ expectations and stop pretending that this type of accommodation, becoming more and more popular, doesn't exist.

Airbnb celebrates this evolution especially since it is slowly getting out of a judicial cloud. The website that provides offers in 34,000 cities in the world benefits, in France, from a more relaxed legislation compared to that of its home city, San Francisco.

Being tested: selling “local experiences”

The logical succession of events would be for Airbnb to become a market share to monetize its audience.

The company is currently trying out numerous experiments to enrich its offer by selling new activities called “local experiences.” There are already 80.

In Paris, for example, the hosts can give a tour of local bakeries, wine testing on a barge or “pétanque-pastis” apéritives. Or in San Francisco (example of a proposed activity

Nothing could stop the company from maybe, one day, including: plane ticket, insurance, car rental… such as Blablacar, a company created in the same model as Airbnb.

This is only an assumption, but it would follow the logic of all the leaders in the e-commerce sector.

Airbnb is going to the mountains

The website that provided accommodations to 11 million people in the world, is focusing on season offers.

“We’re focusing on the Alps because we receive more and more requests on accommodations in holiday spots.

While originally the demand was more concentrated on large urban center, we’ve noticed that, for a while now, this is changing and we’re looking to accompany this natural movement of travelers who see Airbnb as an option for their stay in the mountains,”
explains an Airbnb spokesperson.

The platform is preparing the best it can the winter season by offering accommodations “of improved quality to host skiers.”

A few axis have been developed:

- They will be the top sponsor of the Alpine Skiing World Cup event (late March) with the Méribel resort “which gives us a chance to establish a long-term partnership with the resort.”

- They will sponsor a team of French professional skiers (the Freeski Project.) “This partnership is particularly relevant because these athletes frequently use Airbnb for their own stays since they travel a lot,” says the spokesperson.

- They’re becoming the partners of a mountain-themed film festival (Montagne en Scène.)

A rigorous strategy that follows the nomination of a Mountain Representative, Alexis Dussillol.
“We’re focusing on the Alps because we receive more and more requests on accommodations in holiday spots.”
“We’re focusing on the Alps because we receive more and more requests on accommodations in holiday spots.”

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Tags : Airbnb

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