Airbnb and Google get personal… sort of

As massive, anonymizing tech companies expand, several of them have doubled down on getting “personal” and “experiential.”


November 19, 2019

Even the best algorithm can do only so much. Now big tech companies are leaning on the power of people to improve user experiences.

Here’s how two big tech players are courting consumers.

1. Airbnb teams up with top jocks for new Experiences

Yesterday, Airbnb announced it would sponsor the next 5 Olympics for $500m. As a tie-in to the deal, the company will let athletes sell personal experiences via Airbnb’s platform.

The International Olympic Committee prez said the deal will “enrich the Olympic experience of the spectator.” Perhaps more importantly, it will give cash-strapped athletes a revenue stream.

Mikel Thomas, a hurdler from Trinidad and Tobago who competed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 games, said he would offer running outings through Airbnb Experiences… TBD how much Airbnb will let him charge to smoke you.

It’s an interesting effort to drum up goodwill as Airbnb faces criticism in several European countries for dodgy tax practices and contributing to housing shortages.

2. Google Maps to offer users a shot of influencer-dom

Google Maps is set to test a new feature that will let users follow top-ranked Local Guides to receive their recommendations. 

Launched in 2015, the Local Guides program awards points to users who post regular reviews and photographs of their experiences. Especially engaged users earn badges that let other users know they’re serious about going out… and photos of latte art. 

Up to this point, Google hasn’t done much to encourage users to interact with one another. But with a “community” of approximately 120m active users in 24k cities, going social might be a good move.

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