In case you were busy, like myself, doing festive holiday activities the last couple weeks instead of reading travel news online, you might have missed the story that the online booking site Airbnb recently acquired Localmind, an app that allows users interested in visiting an establishment to connect in real-time with other patrons at that destination in order to ask any desired questions, such as how the scene is at the moment. The common idea of both Airbnb and Localmind is to assist people in their travels but give them a local’s perspective. This move makes a lot of sense for Airbnb as it goes along with the new trend of travel becoming more local and social.
Airbnb is a hub where travelers can find lodging aside from hotels. Typically, the lodging is offered because someone is out of town, or has an extra room, and wants to share his living space or simply make some extra cash. Often times, the home-owner can become a guide of sorts and offer up recommendations of the best local spots. This can make the renter seem like he is getting more of a unique take on the city because he isn’t in a hotel surrounded by all the usual tourist paraphernalia.
Because of this more local feel, incorporating the SoLoMo element into the Airbnb platform will be a great feature for the flourishing site. There is ample opportunity for discovery of local secrets or establishments off the beaten path. Airbnb could become the go-to site for word of mouth and real-time travel advice; travelers could skip the more traditional or kitschy travel guides, online or offline, and get tips directly from the local experts. As those who utilize Airbnb are probably the more adventurous types looking for unique experiences (if not, wouldn’t they stay in more standard lodging?), their whole travel experiences could be changed by this.
In a way, this goes along with the developments in location-based marketing and the idea that the trend will continue to grow. Receiving information in real-time will likely be a huge feature with many apps and updates this year. There is a lot of room for growth yet, especially in the travel industry, and we will be sure to keep watch in 2013 to see what new features arise.