August 29, 2018 02:25 PM
Airbnb isn't just for lodging anymore. Host an Airbnb experience at your restaurant such as cooking classes or live music events. (Photo: Daniel Krason/Shutterstock)
by Joni Sweet
More and more tourists are choosing Airbnb over conventional hotels for accommodations on their trips. While that’s not great news for the hotel industry, the phenomenon may actually be a boost to restaurants.
A company report found that the largest portion of money spent by Airbnb guests while traveling goes to dining out. What’s more, 42 percent of guest spending happens in the neighborhood in which they stay. And since many Airbnb listings fall outside of the traditional tourist hotspots, that can bring an influx of revenue to local restaurants — if the businesses can effectively target Airbnb guests.
Here are some expert-approved strategies you can use to draw Airbnb guests to your restaurant and leverage the platform to boost business.
To earn a stellar rating, Airbnb hosts strive to go above and beyond for their guests. They often put together special welcome kits with personalized recommendations of things to do in the neighborhood. Connect with local Airbnb hosts to get featured in their welcome kits, said Ray Camillo, CEO and founder of Blue Orbit Restaurant Consulting.
“Restaurants are wise to do some legwork to discover which properties are listed nearby, then offer to put menus in each unit. To ply the homeowners who rent their properties, restaurants should offer dining coupons or gift cards in exchange for placing a brochure or menu inside the units for guests to see,” said Camillo.
You could also consider offering hosts an exclusive promotion to share with their guests, which helps you both gain an edge over the competition, said Jasmine Powers, founder of J Powers Marketing & Publicity.
“A restaurant could host a promotion for free drinks included with the purchase of an entree for guests with an Airbnb reservation, or provide the local host a special coupon code for a percentage off the bill in order to encourage visitors to come in,” she said.
Guests aren’t using Airbnb solely for accommodations anymore — they’re also booking things to do through Airbnb Experiences. Hosting an Airbnb Experience at your restaurant could potentially draw in these patrons, said Powers.
“Cooking classes, musical events at restaurants with live entertainment and progressive dinner parties, especially for a group of restaurants in walkable locations, are excellent options for restaurants looking to bring in tourists from Airbnb Experiences,” she said.
Even if you only get a small number of bookings through Airbnb Experiences, just having a presence on the platform can get your restaurant brand in front of thousands of potential guests.
Create a relationship with local Airbnb hosts by offering key pick-up and drop-off at your restaurant for guests. (Photo: Flamingo Images/Shutterstock)
The first thing Airbnb guests do when they get to town is pick up the keys to their rental. Offering key pick-up and drop-off services at your restaurant will expose Airbnb guests to your business, said Camillo.
“Key drop-off is a great way to pull the guest in and it makes it convenient for the owner of the house or unit — especially if they don’t live nearby,” he said.
Dedicate a drawer at the host station in which to place the keys. You could also work with companies like Keycafe to install an automated pick-up and drop-off station that requires no involvement from your staff.
When guests come to pick up the keys, aim to make a good first impression.
“If that key exchange was met with a distribution of coupons, that might encourage someone to try dining there during their trip,” suggested Powers.
According to Jasmine Powers, founder of J Powers Marketing & Publicity, accepting reservations through Airbnb should be a no-brainer for restaurants wanting to attract guests from the platform. (Photo: Jasmine Powers)
Did you know you can now take dinner reservations from Airbnb guests directly from the platform? The company recently teamed up with online reservation startup Resy to allow guests to book tables at area restaurants.
Accepting reservations through the platform is a no-brainer for restaurants who want to attract Airbnb guests, said Powers.
“The Airbnb-Resy partnership makes finding a good place to dine easier since it includes restaurant information and reviews, and reservations can be booked within the app,” she said.
Keep in mind that Airbnb guests are tech savvy, and they’ll probably cross-check your reviews on other sites, as well. Make sure you’re putting your best face forward throughout your web presence, said Camillo.
“The first thing most folks do is tap into Yelp or TripAdvisor to figure out where to eat,” he said. “Accolades, reviews and superb photos of decor and food [should all be available for people to see online]. The more professional and image-forward, the better.”
Once you’ve added a steady stream of Airbnb guests to your customer base, aim to make their experience one to remember. Make sure your staff is prepared to offer personalized recommendations and travel advice to these customers.
“Airbnb units aren’t solely located in tourist areas, so restaurants must be more vigilant with training. Restaurants should definitely review the Airbnb website to understand nearby inventory and arm their staff with information about local activities,” said Camillo.
Airbnb is advancing the opportunities available to restaurants outside of traditional tourists zones. A little extra effort attracting Airbnb guests and tailoring the experience to fit their needs can go a long way to capitalizing on tourist spending — and turning your restaurant into one of the go-to spots for out-of-towners.