Big players learn local from Airbnb

Local is the new buzzword in the travel business
Big travel companies are starting to adopt the local feel that has boosted home-sharing sites such as Airbnb. Marriott International and Royal Caribbean Cruises, for example, are adopting new programs putting guests in touch with local attractions.
Local is the new buzzword in the travel business, and travellers are signing up via major hotel companies and tour operators for experiences arranged by locals.
Marriott recently took a stake in PlacePass, a tour and activity booking start-up, while Royal Caribbean has introduced GoBe, which sells land tours and activities.
The experiences can be varied and unexpected. On PlacePass, you can book a private tour of Downton Abbey filming locations or arrange pasta-making lessons with a local celebrity chef.
“Guests want to feel like they are experiencing something in the design or the local flavour,” said Fiona O’Donnell, director of travel and leisure research at market research firm Mintel. “They want it to be memorable and part of the local scene, not like they are tourists.”
It is also part of a trend where hotels are moving away from a uniform, brand-controlled experience to blending into their individual communities with access to local artists and businesses.
Rooms at the Marriott Moxy in Times Square, New York, scheduled to open this summer, are 17 square metres. The Moxy brand is a boutique hotel with the heart of a hostel, where “we’re really making sure we infuse that local culture,” says brand director Vicki Poulos.
Aloft Hotels, a Starwood brand inherited by Marriott last year, sponsors live performances by local artists. Hilton’s high-end Curio and budget Canopy brands, and also Rezidor’s Radisson Red, draw on the local scene.
The New York Times


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