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Leading Into An IPO, Airbnb Ranks #1 in Travel for Innovation, Creativity and Relevance According to Harte Hanks Behavioral Index™

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the challenges related to COVID-19 that have severely impacted the hotel and travel industries, new research from the Harte Hanks Behavioral Index™ (HHBI) reveals that global home-sharing provider Airbnb is outperforming many leading hotel companies in key areas critical to building and maintaining long-term consumer loyalty and market share.

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 Gretchen Ramsey, Chief Strategy Officer at Harte Hanks. The secret to Airbnb's success may be in how they respond to behavioral needs. "Travelers now expect health and safety measures to follow the highest of standards and more than anything want financial protections built into their bookings. What the pandemic taught the traveler was to be more cautious about the small print, so transparency and financial innovation will be the trends going forward."

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, Hard Rock, Intercontinental, Wyndham, Atlantis, and Wynn.

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.

View the webinar here, or for information on how to apply these learnings to your travel brand, please email

About Harte Hanks:

Harte Hanks is a behavior-driven Customer Experience (CX) company uniquely able to partner with brands on everything from data to delivery. We marry our data-driven understanding of human behavior with a seamless connection to the consumer through a full suite of digital, direct marketing and eCommerce services, including fulfillment and customer care. Harte Hanks works with leading Fortune 500 companies, including Bank of America, BMW Group, Cisco, L'Oréal S.A., Pfizer, Sony and Unilever. Headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, Harte Hanks has more than 2,000 employees throughout North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. For more information, visit Harte Hanks at

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