Some tour operators have plenty of respect for the brand that Airbnb has built, but when it comes to the recent launch of multiday tours in the form of Airbnb Adventures, these tour professionals don’t think the online travel platform has what it takes to handle the complexity of such travel itineraries.
Online travel companies mainly compete against one another using “data, databases, and analytics,” said Oscar Lopera, general manager of group services at Diethelm Travel Group, which offers custom tours in more than a dozen Asian countries.
“They are not real destination experts. They are travel companies who are digitalizing the distribution and access of travel services or products in an easy, digestible, and associative way,” he said.
Lopera sees value in what Airbnb and other online travel companies are doing in the digital arena for tours, but he argued that luxury travelers demand customization and clamor for unique experiences.
Digital platforms don’t have corporate governance at the local level and inevitably fall short when it comes to health and safety, licenses and insurance, Lopera said.
“These platforms are ultimately acting as agents within the supply chain and are not regulating their services in the same way that a specialist destination management company does,” he argued. “Eventually complaints will surface and begin to impact Airbnb’s ability to trade effectively without taking necessary action.” Diethelm Travel provides destination management services.
Airbnb rejects the notion that there is a lack of destination expertise involved in Airbnb adventures.
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