Homeaway joins Airbnb and TripAdvisor in debuting Apple TV apps
At this stage, the apps are pretty basic. They’re essentially very slimmed down versions of their mobile apps. Users can scroll through listings, but there is no way to add reviews or content or complete bookings.
Here’s what HomeAway’s looks like:
But it’s precisely the eagerness to test new marketing channels that gives third-party distributors an edge. By investing early in new channels, they’re consistently staying ahead of suppliers when it comes to reaching customers.
It takes trial-and-error to figure out what works for a new medium like Apple TV. This short video shows the design details that Airbnb has had to consider for its app:
True innovation comes about sometimes by surprise because the new medium allows fresh user experiences.
Exhibit A: HomeAway’s Apple TV app does more than just users browse more than one million vacation rentals from the comfort of their own home.
In a plus, guests at a HomeAway rental equipped with an Apple TV can look up details on how to use the property, such as finding Wi-Fi passwords and pool instructions, as if they were at a hotel. (Property owners upload the content via HomeAway’s portal.)
This move anticipates the replacement of the old-fashioned binders often found at holiday homes. And it enhances the concept by including suggestions for things to see and activities to try from Gogobot, the travel recommendation service. Gogobot restaurant suggestions, for example, can easily be sent to a traveler’s iPhone via SMS from the Apple TV app.
It’s an example of how a new medium may be used by guests differently than the way they’ve use other devices before, so brands can provide a service that’s more relevant in the moment.
To be sure, testing may show that the first generation of Apple TV apps for travel brands are flops. “Airbnb should add a concierge-style experience for guests through its new Apple TV app,” suggests one reviewer.
Maybe. Only experimentation will tell.
By being slow to experiment with new mediums, suppliers will always lag the intermediaries in digital marketing. For more on this theme, see: Fear, loathing, and category killers: A chat about hotel distribution and merchandising
Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.