In the "age of content," where there is often information overload, it can be pretty stressful for travelers to find the right answers to their questions, such as where locals actually eat or drink or where to find off-the-beaten-path attractions.
Most visitors will likely open up TripAdvisor or simply use Google, but that can often be a painful journey that can take them down endless rabbit holes.
Which means technology and content can often work against the guest rather than for the guest. However, flipping that around, we’re are also in the age of technological and content opportunity.
Technology is at its most powerful when it enables a targeted, human recommendation, and there are several brands that seem to be getting the combination right and are building digital communities around content, knowledge and experiences.
Guest engagement at the accommodation provider level
Consider The Guild, which operates boutique hotels with an apartment-style approach. Not only does it have an interesting accommodation model, but it's also blending technology with human interaction, via its Guides, in a fascinating way.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
The Guild understand that people like human interaction when that interaction works with technology. It has built on this relationship with the guest by curating its own content for the cities in which it operates.
Its Guides page is a great example of this, serving up local recommendations. Where better content exists outside of its proprietary solutions, it pulls that in, for example utilizing third-party solutions like Sidewalk to find walkable tours.
This curated approach requires thought and care. To those who want effortless, rapid scalability, it’s not an obvious approach, but the approach of combining technology with a human spirit serves the guest exceptionally well. Taken a step further, it offers a revenue option, which more than pays for the human cost of curation.
Guest engagement at the city level
An interesting twist on this content curation model, which enhances guest experience and engagement, can also be delivered at the city level by local accommodation associations or tourism boards.
Curated, local recommendations, delivered directly to guests via their smartphones, can be a valuable and easy way to offer communication, community and experiences.
Two such organizations that are doing exactly that are StayinBath.org, an association with more than 100 members and represents more than 20% of the beds in one of the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist destinations, and the Nashville Short Term Rental Association - a collection of 600 properties.
Both organizations live and breathe the idea that guest spending should remain local and are passionate about offering these types of experiences to their guests. They curate the very best of their cities and syndicate that to local accommodation owners through Touch Stay's digital guest welcome book. Accommodation owners are then able to introduce this collective wisdom to their guests.
The result is a system in which guests experience the “best of local” places, satisfying their desire to quickly find genuinely trusted spots. This keeps their spend local, bolstering independent brands for the benefit of the entire community.
Guest engagement at the OTA level
The concept of matching services with guest wants and needs doesn’t only have to exist at the accommodation or city level. Airbnb Experiences is an example of how unique activities can be delivered at a hyper-local level, facilitated by an online travel agency.
Guests no longer have to rely on (sometimes) personality-devoid traditional tours. Instead they can access tours and activities with local flair.
This kind of localized approach ensures the guest has access to something quite unique and original. Granted there is a risk that these experiences lean more towards DIY on the scale of professionalism.
Perhaps a balance is needed between personality-devoid and plain amateur, but the point is that content and stay options can be personalized, building community along the way.
Where you are actually staying, and how you booked, is just the beginning of guest engagement.