Airbnb, the massive home-sharing service, unveiled an intriguing new feature last month.
Techcrunch wrote that visitors to San Francisco and Paris are now being offered the chance to not only live with a local but also to get customized tours and experiences from them as well. Given the increasing importance of the tourist dollar to small businesses across North America, this change represents a huge marketing opportunity for local entrepreneurs who are willing to think outside the box.
It’s not a huge leap to see how an Austin bakery could start operating a food tour that finished with free samples in their bakery, or an edgy clothing boutique in San Francisco could offer street-art tours of their area – finishing in their store with special discounts on all merchandise. Now, initially this represents a potential ancillary revenue stream for many businesses but, more importantly, it offers a unique way to connect with customers.
Of course, Airbnb is not the only new tech, and tourists are not the only demographic, so we’ve had a quick run up of some of the new ways you can find and connect with customers.
Tourist Apps: Getyourguide.com, Airbnb.com, Peek.com, etc.
To return briefly to the Airbnb example, there are already a number of sites offering the services that Airbnb is potentially moving into. Perhaps the most notable is Get Your Guide, a European-based company that facilitates tours and excursions around the world. Having recently purchased Gidsy.com, they have an iOS and Android app and could provide an interesting way to get your name out there.
The key to success here is committing hard to above-and-beyond customer service – these services pride themselves on putting peer-reviews at the heart of how people choose their preferred experience, so do it right from the off and you’ll build yourself a great online reputation and a thriving customer acquisition tool.
Tasks and Errands Providers: Taskrabbit, Fiverr.com, thumbtack.com
Perhaps the next big new opportunity is the fast-paced growth of online task marketplaces. These sites allow you to seek out someone to help you get done, well, pretty much anything you could ever want to get done. From the mundane (laundry, grocery shopping), to the skilled (plumbers, cobblers), to the slightly lazy (having someone else wake up at 5am to line up for those Miley Cyrus tickets), you can really find a lot of very helpful people on these services.
So how can this benefit you and your small business? Well first off, if your business has a service angle in any way, you should take an afternoon and get yourself listed on all of these sites. It’s a great way to get exposure to a wider audience, even if the companies will often take a cut of any fee.
Perhaps more powerful than any upfront payment is the chance to build a reputation online. Many people are online looking for someone to come and bake a cake for a family occasion, or to help them install an air conditioning unit.
Now imagine that your staff are the ones getting paid and heading over to do this work – now also imagine, they are leaving behind cards and marketing material from your bakery or hardware store. Again, it’s not a huge leap to realize that providing great customer service to these people could turn them into regular visitors to your store.
Owners can make sure their employees become certified task rabbits. They can deploy these people for any creative tasks.
A baker could send a task rabbit to someone’s house to make a special meal. A smartphone repair shop could get its employees certified to fix damaged electronics wherever someone may be.