When asked to imagine themselves as a Bed & Breakfast proprietor, most people will likely respond with some combination of longing for what they may see as a less stressful occupation and laughter at the generally ridiculous nature of such a question. For many, the financial investment alone would be enough to scare off these would-be inn-keepers. Not to mention the effort involved in convincing potential guests that you’re no Norman Bates.
So with Airbnb assuredly elbowing it’s way toward the top of the hospitality industry, one asks just what is it that has brought the boom back to this niche of the hospitality industry? Built on the backs of those invested in the sharing economy, companies are learning that they can create an impressive and engaging business by empowering would-be entrepreneurs.
But what sets some of these companies apart from others? It’s the marketing. No, not the kind an organization does on its own behalf, where customers are enticed by clever Google ads that can sometimes cost a disarming amount. It’s the tools and support provided to the hosts themselves.
With the onslaught of companies like Airbnb, DogVacay, Rover, Roomorama, 9flats, and others that have empowered so many people to make their home into a business, it’s become clear there is a decisive difference between community-backed marketplaces and starting a business out on your own.
Similar in many ways to the business innovation incubators that have popped up in metropolis’ around the world, these communities not only make entry into the world of entrepreneurship low risk and low cost, they also provide a bevy of resources and direction to aid in success.
DogVacay, what many are calling “Airbnb for dogs,” is one of the fast-growing participants in this empowered-entrepreneur economy. As a DogVacay host, one is initially onboarded with a variety of short training courses that reinforce best practices when caring for pets, and provide tips regarding the sometimes precarious situation of meeting strangers on the internet. But beyond providing the seemingly requisite background info that helps to prep a host for his or her first furry guest, DogVacay provides tips and resources to boost your business prospects.
Why go beyond the activation of dog sitters and push people to become invested entrepreneurs?
When users are empowered to succeed, and that success is measured both in financial incentive and in slobbery kisses the desire is great to continue using the platform. DogVacay in particular goes to great length to foster the community growth of each of its hosts. According to DogVacay’s Rachael King, hosts have access to an online shop where they can purchase customized physical marketing materials, and are advised via newsletters on how to make the most of those assets. Hosts even have the ability to promote their home-boarding businesses with a custom DogVacay URL.
According to King, “[W]e’re always improving our tools for sitters … and helping them grow their businesses. We absolutely want to see them succeed in marketing their services. If our Hosts are happy and busy, DogVacay thrives.”
So what does that mean for those of us who aren’t as dog inclined? As DogVacay and Airbnb continue to support the booming businesses of their hosts, we wonder which industry will be disrupted next by a marketplace of empowered entrepreneurs. And in what other ways will the support itself develop? As more companies co-brand and partner on their services, we’re interested in whether companies that offer additional marketing support will do this through partnership or invest to build the tools themselves.
So the question is, what’s next?