A spectrum of positive emotions reflects how different types Millennials really feel about their peer-to-peer type of accommodation experiences… (Part I)

3 April, 2017
  • 8 min read

As senior lecturers and researchers affiliated with Hotelschool The Hague’s Research Center, we have done research on which positive emotions live on in the memories of millennial travellers when they reflect on their most recent stay in Peer-to-Peer type of accommodations.

In this blog we share our main findings recently presented at the ITB conference in Berlin titled “How ‘Sharing And Caring’ Is Context Dependent: Underlying Motives In Millennials’ Choices For Peer-To-Peer Accommodation” (Read more about eTravel Lab Day 3 speakers by clicking here). This blog post (Part I) will address the main findings and outcomes of this research, while another blog via this site will give more in-depth insight to the approach of design for positive emotions and methods and tools we have applied (Part II).

Building emotional ties with customers becomes vital in creating new value.

Hospitality providers are often just concerned with one or two emotions, namely satisfaction and in some instances, customer delight as these are considered important concepts to build loyalty. Yet to only focus on these two emotions, quickly leads to a constant treadmill of having to give more and do more, for example, the free late check-out, complimentary drink or upgrade upon the next stay in the hotel. More importantly, we don’t really know if these extras trigger emotions that will live on in the memories of our customers. We think that if we can figure out how to connect with guests on an emotional level, a lot can be learned in how to design products and service into experiences that tap into consumer emotions, create long lasting memories and in return, more loyalty. Fine graining customer emotions and building emotional ties with customers then become vital to creating new value that goes beyond meeting or exceeding customer needs.

What can we learn from upcoming and popular peer-to-peer rentals?

A disrupting force that has been able to provide unprecedented new value for consumers are Peer-to-Peer short-term rentals (PSR). Peer-to-Peer short-term rental accommodation is the neutral term for private accommodation booked by an increasing number of travellers via platforms such as Airbnb as the largest and most well-known. But also via other (upcoming) platforms such as Wimdu, 9Flata, or Trampolinn and holiday homes sites as Homeaway or FlipKey.

But what are the underlying motives and emotions that connect with customers on a deeper level and hence make Peer-to-Peer accommodations so popular? Previous studies show that Airbnb guests are most strongly attracted to Airbnb by its practical attributes such as cost, location, and amenities, and less by its experiential attributes such as novelty and interaction (see e.g. Guttentag, 2013). At the same time we see that Airbnb advertising focuses mainly on authentic local experiences and interaction with locals without mentioning these other benefits sought. If we look at Airbnb in the context of ‘positive emotions’, it is also interesting to see that on a deeper level it is all about addressing a sense and feeling of ‘belonging to’ and even about being accepted by embracing diversity, honesty and trust.

What do millennial travellers value when they look back on their stay in Peer-to-Peer short term rental accommodation?

Since millennials have influenced travel over the past years we found it important to zoom in on this group and asked ourselves how we can dig deeper in the motives of millennial consumers? How do they emotionally connect with Peer-to-Peer short-term rental type of accommodations? And are their experiences different in different contexts or circumstances? And how are they different for different types of millennials?

We first asked our respondents what type of Peer-to-Peer short-term rental they had stayed in and 84% said they rented an entire place. This is consistent with other studies on Airbnb and now we see that it also applies to younger travellers. Seeing that renting an entire place is quite similar to a hotel stay, we question the social interaction aspect. But maybe high number was due to family travel? But the reason for renting an entire place isn’t family travel. In fact, in our sample, 46% travelled either alone or with a partner or one friend.

We asked the participants to review all 25 emotions (see blog post Part II for more information on this) and pick and rank the top 5 that most represented their Peer-to-Peer Short Rental stay (Figure 2). Six emotions that were picked the most: relaxation, joy, satisfaction, amusement, energised and kindness.

Figure 1 (above): Ranking of the 25 Positive Emotions

#1: We see that Relaxation, defined as ‘to enjoy a moment without stress’ jumping out here as the strongest number 1 ranked emotion that the respondents feel looking back on their stay. At the same time, Joy defined as ‘taking part in something fun’ and satisfaction being ‘the recent fulfilment of a need’ are on an equal level.

#2: Ranked as number 2, we observe that Joy and Amusement were chosen as the strongest emotions. Amusement defined as ‘a state of humour and entertainment’.

#3 Ranked as number 3, it is interesting to see that Joy comes out really strong but also emotions like feeling Energised and Kindness. Energised is linked to ‘feeling excited and stimulated’ and Kindness as ‘to experience a relatedness and friendliness to or from others’.

#4 and #5: What we find interesting here is that also emotions like Inspiration is rated as the 4th most positive feeling several times. And same thing here, it is nice to see that elements of surprise are also ranked high as the 5th most positive feeling several times.

So what did we learn from this? Well, it clearly shows that satisfaction is really only one out of a range of different emotions that our customers experience. More importantly, satisfaction is often not the strongest and most important emotion that lives on in the memories of our customers.

We also asked which the most important attributes were in contributing to the positive emotions is the interior design of the accommodation (Figure 1).

Figure 1 (above): Most important attribute contributing to positive emotions

The design of the PSR is clearly the most important. Location is the second most important attribute, followed by design, large space, social interaction and low costs, which are quite equally ranked.  For the third most important attribute, we see that social interactions, design, convenient location and large space are all very equally rated.

Last but not least we have asked our respondents “Can a hotel provide same emotions?” Approximately one-fifth (21%) answered ‘Yes’ and the majority (79%) said ‘No’.

Figure 3 (above): Hotel substitution for peer-to-peer accommodation

The positive message here for hoteliers is that the reasons Millenials say ‘no’ a hotel cannot substitute a peer-to-peer accommodation are that they are not difficult to bridge. It does take some ingenuity to provide a more house and homely feeling but if anybody can master hospitable experiences where guests feel at home; it should be our industry! For more insights on how, please see an interview with us by Fee Naaijkens from Trivago.

What are takeaways of our research for hospitality providers?

This study is about the positive emotions that live on in the memories of our guests. At least when asking travellers to reflect back on their stay, comparatively low cost and local feelings are not dominant drivers. On the other hand, it shows that whilst social interaction and location are important, interior design and the large space also have a significant impact on emotions. This aligns with the research showing that Millennials prefer unique experiences which a homely apartment can provide better than a standardised hotel room.

Our study focusses on post-trip experiences; the positive emotions that live on in the memories of travellers when we asked them to reflect back on their stay. That means that we are in the last phase of the customer journey and this is where loyalty arises. Loyalty in turn, is created from how guests think back of their stay and how that makes them feel. Furthermore, we have seen that for different type of Millennials different emotions stand out as the most important and lasting emotion (see our blog post Part II). To successfully communicate to these different types of guests, a company’s marketing efforts need to be congruent with their guests’ emotions and memory about their last stay. Magids and colleagues (2015) show that when honing in on that emotion, companies will connect with that person on a very different level. The chance to lure them back then increases significantly. 

About the author

Anna de Visser-Amundson & Annemieke de Korte

Anna de Visser-Amundson 

After holding management positions in both Operations and Sales & Marketing for multinational hotel companies like the Four Seasons and an independent design hotel in countries like France, United States, Ireland and the Caribbean for more than 12 years, Anna de Visser-Amundson left the international hospitality industry and joined Hotelschool The Hague in March of 2008. Since then she has taught in all phases of the curriculum but primarily in introductory marketing courses as well as in marketing management. In august of 2013, she became a joint course owner of the course Business Model Innovation where she gets to work very close with the industry and students to design new business models for real life case companies.  Anna de Visser-Amundson finds it the perfect combination of her commercial background and current position as a Lecturer. 

Annemieke de Korte

Mrs de Korte has worked as a product manager for PTT Post, as a Business Analist and later on as a future researcher for KPN Research. She has done consultancy work at TNO Information and Communication Technology.  At this moment, Mrs de Korte is working as a freelancer at Ventura Quest, where she is active in trend analyses, vision and strategy tactics and creating creative workshops and interactive sessions. She also works at Hotelschool The Hague as a Lecturer in Strategic Management, where she teaches, and coaches in courses: Trends & Future of Hospitality, Strategy Development, Business Model Innovation, and LYCAR.

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