In the 1988 iconic film The Accidental Tourist, William Hurt plays a travel writer who teaches his readers to feel as if they never left home when they’re traveling. The film reflects a traveler’s fear of the unknown, of stepping out of their comfort zone.
Not too long ago, travelers snatched their itineraries from travel guidebooks and Google recommendations, and they always consisted of each destination’s most popular attractions.
Nothing could be further than the truth for the millennial traveler. The last thing they crave is to “feel like they never left home” or heading to the traditional, most frequented attractions. They are increasingly exchanging cookie-cutter vacations for unique experiences that make them feel more like locals in a new landscape rather than invading tourists who will never get to the true heart of a destination.
Experiential travel means meeting the local community, cooking local food, sitting in the neighbourhood bar and making new friends. Technology facilitates this through apps like CoolCousin, which sets travelers up with locals for more casual and authentic touring, Bitemojo or Eatwith for local tasting experiences, WithLocals for a variety of local experiences, and the list goes on.
Fundamental to serving travelers’ growing desire to experience new places in more authentic ways is the type of accomodation they “go home” to at the end of the day, a concept introduced by Airbnb back in 2008. Gone are the times when vacation lodgings were simply places to dress, sleep and store belongings. When you spend your day feeling like a local, you want to end it feeling the same. You want to hunker down in a place that adds to the experience rather than a generic hotel room that shatters the illusion.
The vacation rental accomodation option has been around for a while, but as experiential travel gains momentum, vacation rentals that are accompanied by a flavor of authenticity are fast becoming a more prominent player on the hospitality scene.
Unlike hotels, which offer nearly identical lodgings across all their chains, each vacation rental is expected to provide a unique homebase for guests. The range of accommodation options now available to travelers through online travel agencies like Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway and TripAdvisor Rentals is enabling them to be quite particular about the kinds of places they want to stay- from chic airstreams to cozy tipis.
It’s no longer just about choosing between a queen bed or a twin bed. Guests are aware that they have options and can afford to be picky. They’ll search for properties with a terrace, a garden, a fully stocked kitchen, or even particular architectural style. They may want to have the ability to buy local products in a nearby market, or to experience life in an up and coming neighbourhood. They may be looking for a castle, a farmhouse, or a trendy rooftop. They want to feel like a local, to complement the theme of their vacation, or find a stay that speaks to their personality.
This trend has not only contributed to the creation of new vacation rental channels, but has resulted in an entire ecosystem built to support changing traveler preferences. The lack of a duplicatable template makes managing short-term rentals far more difficult than managing a hotel. They are not only spread apart physically across different locations, but are further fragmented by size, price, character, amenities and the distinct kinds of travelers they appeal to.
As vacation rental management became increasingly complex, the industry saw a serious need for technological innovation. That’s where our software comes into play. Guesty was created to address these challenges, providing a single place for users to manage properties of all shapes and sizes in an efficient and scalable manner.
As the industry continues to grow more and more diverse and travelers become more “spoiled,” members of the hospitality industry are going to need to find creative ways to surprise their guests. What they’ll also need is a technology that can help them support the bevy of options they’ll need to offer bookers. That’s why we are continuously evolving our software to meet the business needs of property managers as experiences take on an increasingly critical role in the travel world.
We have definitely entered a new age of travel, and as it continues to evolve, technology will surely rise to the occasion, providing innovative solutions for navigating this exciting new hospitality trend.