Crowd-sourced content continues to appeal to travel brands, as Gogobot and Homeaway partner on a product called Insider Guides that brings local insider knowledge to travelers.
Insider Guides, in a similar vein to Airbnb's Neighborhood product and the next step in an existing partnership, encourages property owners to share their insider knowledge with potential guests.
One of the key interests for those choosing local rentals over hotels is the local knowledge gleaned from the property owners.
By allowing owners to share what they know, the idea is that renters will be more inclined to book with the company rather than go to a hotel. The lack of a concierge and front desk that can help a visitor navigate a new city is remediated by centralizing these resources.
The Insider Guides product also provides granular access to activities and recommendations in over 50,000 destinations where HomeAway has properties - a breadth beyond the editorial content of something like Airbnb's Neighborhoods, and a different spirit than the star-ratings of review sites like TripAdvisor.
User generated content
A happy guest is also much more likely to become a loyal guest, which is one of the key considerations for travel companies looking to tap into user generated content.
The users in this case also have a vested interest in the success, accuracy and utility of the content - they are the people renting out their places, and they want their renters to have the best experience possible in order to ensure repeat visits and great reviews.
Each of these guides also becomes an inbound marketing bonanza, providing new customers the comfort they may need to book a rental. By discovering local things to do, they are engaged in a way that a simple reservation form cannot do.
In the announcement, HomeAway's co-founder Brian Sharples speaks to this new layer on their existing service.
I love the idea that HomeAway’s Insider Guides provides travelers with trusted, local advice. As a vacation rental owner, I’ll use the product to showcase the hidden gems around my home that aren’t found in any guidebook.
Near my vacation home in Colorado, families and groups can find the most popular ski slopes, but what about that little known mom-and-pop restaurant that serves the best food in town? That’s what Insider Guides provides our travelers.
The feature uses Gogobot's technology, meaning that each Insider Guide is actually hosted by Gogobot. This means that the guides come pre-populated with points of interest - a fantastic use of Gogobot's existing content database.
The Guides can also be sent directly to renters via the HomeAway dashboard, facilitating an instantaneous uptake of the feature. Gogobot reports that, in the last 2 hours before this article was posted, 160 guides have been created by homeowners - without any direct marketing about the new feature.
The mobile experience is the killer feature
The Insider Guides can also be downloaded into Gogobot's mobile app, bringing all the rich content to the traveler on the go - including convenient things like click-to-call for restaurant reservations, for example.
This mobile integration could very well be the best part about this partnership, as it truly provides insider travel information on the go - something that even the most tech-savvy hotel concierges are struggling to provide.
In a chat with Tnooz, Gogobot CEO Travis Katz is clearly enthused about the new linkup:
What is really amazing is that it allows you to get access to insider tips you can't find anywhere else, e.g. the local hiking trail that is not on the map but has great sunset views.
Our focus at Gogobot is about connecting travelers to the most authentic, local advice about any destination. With this partnership, we are bringing this expertise to one of the largest travel communities in the world, making HomeAway a more social and personal experience for travelers.
We are bringing some best of breed functionality, [and] helping move HomeAway and VRBO from pure listings into experiences.
Gogobot also benefits from additional entries into its database of worldwide travel offerings, as each custom listing created by a HomeAway owner is added to Gogobot's main site.
The partnership is a clever one, allowing Gogobot to extend the reach of both its brand and its content, while HomeAway gets a value-add for both sets of its customers - the renters and the owners.
The experience is fairly seamless, and should appeal to a wide variety of travelers from both brands. Here's the video outlining how it all works: