According to findings from the fourth wave of the Index, Airbnb, which is gearing up for its public debut this week, is outperforming traditional hotel companies in multiple areas measured by the HHBI, including Innovation, Creativity and Relevance, where it ranks first among all hospitality providers. Airbnb's performance in these areas is contributing significantly to their ability to grow their share of the hospitality marketplace.
The Harte Hanks Behavioral Index™, which has been tracking consumer insights since the early stages of the pandemic, defines Innovation as being the first company in an industry to bring new innovations to the world; Creativity as helping consumers look at the world differently; and Relevance as a company's ability to understand and respond to what's happening in a culture.
"Airbnb overshadows traditional hotels by creating a personal experience that starts at the moment of your booking and lasts throughout your stay. Their hosts provide everything from customized restaurant recommendations to tips on the best local farmer's markets. That is meaningful personalization," says
In addition to its strong performance in the areas of Innovation, Creativity and Relevance, Airbnb also scored highly in the category of a brand that consumers would consider in the future, ranking third just behind Marriott (#1) and Hilton (#2). In terms of travel brands that consumers would recommend, the top ten in order were Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Comfort Suites, Airbnb,
Interestingly, the HHBI revealed that no lodging provider measured scored highly across the attributes of Purpose, Authenticity and Responsiveness – areas where major hotel brands have a lot of natural equity, but they're not getting credit for it. Hotel brands must make sure they leverage their legacy to ensure they are delivering on modern travelers' expectations. "Health and safety measures are expected in today's world. And "loyalty" through points programs is no longer relevant – what travelers want to know is how your brand will make them feel."
According to Ramsey, we are living today in an "Epiphany Economy," where it's not enough to provide a product or service; brands must also demonstrate empathy and deliver meaningful action against consumer and cultural needs.
"For example, traditional hotel brands should double down on their founders' set of values, whether about caring for the guest, providing an upscale experience, or delivering against surprise and delight," says Ramsey. "They need to give travelers a customized experience, not just in terms of choosing a foam pillow over feathers but being able to express their travel occasion and having the hotel respond with appropriate options/upgrades."
The Harte Hanks Behavioral Index™ is a global initiative conducted on a quarterly basis to uncover emerging behavioral shifts that influence consumer behavior. The ultimate goal is to help brands understand how to best meet their consumers' needs.
The Index was developed using a proprietary method that evaluates brands on a set of criteria, such as Empathy and Action – both ways to serve consumers. The latest wave is based on 700 million global social conversations with 11,000 people surveyed, 40,000 global stories and 2 million semantic artifacts.
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