Finding an unfilled niche or filling a gap in an operating model seem to be the two main pathways to success in the highly competitive market of online travel.
Arrivedo’s niche, says Alonso Franco, the start-up’s CEO and co-founder, is to organise one neighbourhood guide for every hotel in the world. “We have a core focus that others have not prioritised – and that is giving voice to hotels for the first time,” says Franco.
Behind this is a clear goal: to claw back hotel business that is being taken by Airbnb from travellers who are looking for that hyper-local experience. Franco acknowledges that the service Airbnb is providing to consumers looking for a truly local experience is great, but this doesn’t mean that hotels shouldn’t step up their game and fight back with the right tools. Arrivedo, a proprietary content management system that integrates with FourSquare and OpenStreetMaps technology to create a neighbourhood guide with pinned recommendations on a map, is one way to do so.
No time for complacency
This sharp focus on the hotel neighbourhood brings what Franco describes as a “natural curation” to each of Arrivedo’s pieces of content, yet this is no time for complacency. “The competition for in-destination content is significant,” he admits.
Google, for example, already has non-curated recommendations for hotels, as does TripAdvisor. Other niche players – market places like Viator, GetyourGuide or online travel agents like Ceetiz – all focus on selling or curating tours and experiences in one form or other. But they too are also looking to form partnerships with hotels.
Arrivedo’s niche, however, is purely on highlightling the experience that is possible in the immediate neighbourhood. Of course, hotels need to make customers aware of the top attractions nearby, something that Arrivedo will do, but it’s also about highlighting truly local experiences. For example, the must-not-miss five kilometre run from the hotel door, the bike ride down an unknown local river trail, the ideal walk round a nearby park for young families, or five top restaurants curated for, say, backpackers.
…we have to be better than all the others in our chosen niche
“In this respect, we have to be better than all the others in our chosen niche of creating neighbourhood guides. It’s not about bringing in reviews, or other features, that others can do better,” he says.
Hotels know their neighbourhood best but hotels are also pressed for time. So while it’s possible for hotels to add their own guides to the platform, Arrivedo also links hotels to expert travel writers. In a mutually beneficial exchange, writers receive a free room night for interviewing a hotel and curating its neighbourhood content in the best and most professional way.
“This model is super sustainable for us because we don’t have to invest in writing content, rather to promote the relationship between writers and hotel,” says Franco.
While hotels see Arrivedo as an “interesting concept” it’s early days. One establishment that EyeforTravel contacted said they were unclear about how to measure the impact of such content on the guest experience or on their branding efforts. It seems that the ability of Arrivedo to engage numerous properties in a given area will be crucial to its future success.
So far 400 hotels in 75 cities, including San Francisco, Rome, Madrid, Toronto, London and Mexico City, have signed up to claim their space on Arrivedo. According to Franco they have now started to prepopulate nearby hotels in a similar price range, which means that today 7,000 hotels already have neigbourhood guide content, and since December last year, month-on-month growth has been 45%.
It’s an ambitious target, but Arrivedo is aiming to have a neighbourhood guide for 90% of hotels by 2019. To this end, right now the team is actively targeting 20 hotels in 20 cities. “Our short term plan is to focus on getting the message out to hotels so that they can claim their profile.”
Down the road, however, this B2B2C marketplace foresees opening its API up to firms like Expedia and booking.com. Such API partnerships are widely viewed as the secret sauce in this competitive arena.
Watch this space, and watch out for an upcoming report from EyeforTravel on the fast-moving tours and activities space